The Liberal Libertarian Academic Essasys Should Animals Be The Subjects of Biomedical Experimentation?

Should Animals Be The Subjects of Biomedical Experimentation?

Since the dawn of time, animals have stood alongside humans, some posing as predators or prey to our kind, some being used as resources or tools, while others serve as our lifelong companions. For decades there has been the everlasting debate regarding the welfare of animals and whether or not we have the right to take their lives and use them as subjects of biomedical research experimentation for our own benefit. Many people who advocate for the rights of animals believe it is morally unacceptable to perform tests on animals for countless reasons. That reasoning has roots in the grand principle of speciesism and how such a concept effects the lives of laboratory animals. Those who argue against animal testing can all agree that animals are highly capable, intelligent beings.

It all begins with the infamous animal rights debate. Why aren’t humans used for biomedical research? After all, the results are supposed to be exclusive to the human race. In fact, humans are not used as test subjects because the experiments are deemed dangerous, unsafe, and immoral. Humans too, are also animals, that is proven to be true. Yet people show less sympathy for other species because it is a common misconception that animals feel no pain, have no emotions, and are below us- this is untrue.

“People can sometimes kill animals that burgle or trespass, make too much noise, or become a nuisance, without moral or legal condemnation. The same holds true for animals that taste good, have attractive skin or pelts, or are useful laboratory subjects. Why is it acceptable to kill an animal for these reasons, but not a human?” (ANIMAL RIGHTS 2010) This is because they are treated as inferiors for numerous reasons. Major ones are due to religion or an animal’s inability to speak the human tongue. Animals are treated like property much like slaves were, however slavery was declared immoral, as it should have been, and outlawed, whilst ownership of animals was not. Humans favor their own species, but not only that, they favor cats and dogs and hold them above pigs and cows, animals typically used for livestock. That is exactly what speciesism is. “In 1970 the British psychologist Richard D. Ryder coined the term speciesism to describe prejudice and discrimination practiced by humans against animals. […] which describes in vivid detail the ways in which animals are subjected to pain and suffering on farms, in slaughterhouses, and in laboratory experiments. [Peter] Singer publicizes the notion of speciesism and calls for an end to it. He argues that speciesism is similar to racism and sexism, in that they all deny moral and legal rights to one group in favor of another.” (Animal Rights 2010)

In a 2006 poll, 61% said it was morally acceptable to perform medical testing on animals. By 2008, that number dropped to 56%. In another poll, 72% said that “Animals deserve some protection from harm and exploitation, but it is still appropriate to use them for the bebefit of humans.” 25% said that “Animals deserve the exact same rights as people to be free from harm and exploitation”, while 3% said “Animals don’t need much protection from harm and exploitation since they are just animals.”

Most of the people that do support animal testing don’t realize that perfectly healthy cats and dogs are often used. Other animals such as rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and chimpanzees are also used. In 2007, test subjects were approximately 23% rabbits, 20% guinea pigs, 17% hamsters, 11% farm animals, 7% dogs, 7% primates, 2% cats, and 13% identified as “other covered animals.”

“[…] the majority of chimpanzees owned by the federal government and housed in laboratories are not being used in research, at all, but have instead been ‘warehoused’, kept in confinement for decades just in case they will be needed in the future.” (Michael Markanan)

Chimpanzees, our closest relatives in the kingdom Animalia, share approximately 97% of our DNA and are known to experience trauma from isolation. As stated in “Animal Research: Bioethics for Students” there were little to no objections to animal testing in the 1600s. “Usually, the objections were made because an experimenter personally found the procedures revolting” says the article. “At that time, many people did not believe animal experimentation was wrong because they thought that animals could not feel pain. Even scientists that knew that animals could feel pain did not consider the experiments to be cruel. They believed that humans had a right to use animals any way they saw fit.” (Steven G.) This interlocks and aligns with speciesism, how humans value their own kind before others, but it is not limited to that. Majority of people eat some type of meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, deer, etc.) yet find it disturbing and repulsive to eat animals such as dogs or cats. To define speciesism is to discriminate or select preference based on species. There are less objections to harm a pig than there would be to harm a dog, but believe it or not, pigs are actually notably smarter than dogs on average. Harold D. Gunther points out that 2/3 dogs and cats used in experiments come from shelters. Often perfectly healthy animals that would otherwise be adopted into a family due to good temperaments, have no chance at adoption or life outside a cage. Research is not limited by species. There is even less of a regard for rodents. Rats and mice are commonly used test subjects and are usually bred for research. It is estimated that over 100 million animals are used in experiments per year. Stories about animal rights extremists breaking into laboratories and freeing the animals are not uncommon. Despite their noble purpose, extremists are often labeled as terrorists for their radical actions. This makes many less willing to support the cause.

Supporters of animal testing make the claim that biomedical research can teach us about human disease.”The average human life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past 100 years. In 1900, most did not live past 50. Now, most will live to see their 75th birthday. This increase is largely due to advances in medicine that would not have been possible without animal research.” (Ross R. Keller) While it is true that animal research has lead to the cures of countless illnesses, technology has advanced in such a way that living test subjects will soon be obsolete.”Almost all scientists approach research with compassion and a commitment to responsible, humane, and ethical treatment of animals, and it is often their discoveries that lead to improvements in animal welfare and health.” (Allyson J. Bennet) Animal testing has progressed the world, but this doesn’t change the fact that millions die for the cause. Many scientists in fact do not comply with the laws. Even the ones that do are not using humane methods. Firstly, rodents are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) as they are not considered animals by law. Second, animals which are protected are only protected in certain aspects. Third, there have been known exceptions to the laws of the AWA. “Emory University exempted 1835 primates from the standards of the AWA. 4 primates were used in painful experiments without anesthesia. 381 primates experienced restraint (i.e. confinement in a primate restraint chair). 1356 primates, were singly housed, exempting them from having social contact with members of their own species. 94 primates had restricted access to either food or water. Emory used a total of 2369 primates in experimentation. That means 77% of the primates used in experimentation at Emory University were exempted from the standards of the Animal Welfare Act.” (Animal Experimentation 2013)

Animal research cannot accurately give results for humans. Even when it provides results for animals, there is no guarantee that it will work on humans until it is used on humans.

In conclusion, animal research is unethical, but ethics alone wont stop it from happening, even when there are safer alternatives. “Scientists use animals in biological and medical research more as a matter of tradition, not because animal research has proved particularly successful or better than other modes of experimentation. In fact, animal ‘models’ have never been validated, and the claim that animals are necessary for biomedical research is unsupported by scientific literature. Instead, there is growing awareness of the limitations of animal research and its inability to make reliable predictions about human health.” (Animal Experimentation, 2013) For centuries, perhaps longer, animals have been subjected to many methods of torture, with experimentation being one of the worst. People are appalled to even consider testing on humans, yet the same sympathy is not given at the thought of animals being harmed in such a way. Genocides of animal species have occurred before, who’s to say it can’t happen again? There is a popular quote that says : “The holocaust never ended, it just changed species.” Humankind cannot treat each other with respect until we learn to treat all creatures with respect. Animals are more than just property. They can live perfectly without us as nature intended. Experimentation that isn’t worth the massive death rates should not be conducted- period. The eradication of discrimination will take a lifetime, and it starts with speciesism. It starts with you.


Works Cited

The Animal Rights Debate (Animal Rights 2010)

Research Animals (Animal Rights 2011)

Animal Experimentation: An Overview (The Rights of Animals 2004; Harold D. Gunther, Andrew Rowan)

Animal Research (Bioethics for Students, 1999; Steven G.)

Public Opinion on the morality of medical testing on animals, May 2006 (The Gallup Organization)

Public Opinion on the morality of medical testing on animals, 2001-08 (The Gallup Organization)

Public Opinion on animal rights, May 2003 (The Gallup Organization)

Animals used in research, by species, fiscal year 2007 (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Opposition to Animal Studies Threatens Research in Psychology (Scientific Research 2015; Allyson J. Bennett)

Animal Research Is Unethical and Scientifically Unnecessary (Animal Experimentation, 2013)

The Animal Welfare Act Does Not Protect Animals from Abuse in Research (Animal Experimentation 2013)


Additional Research

• The Animal Rights Debate (Joseph Lubinski)

• Do Animals Have Rights?: The Debate (Roger Scruton, Andrew Tyler; 2005)

• Animal Welfare Is Different Than Animal Rights (Animal Experimentation 2013)

• Animal Rights Movement (Social Issues, 1998)

• Introduction to Animal Rights: Current Controversies (Animal Rights 2015)

• Introduction to The Rights of Animals: Current Controversies (The Rights of Animals 2004)

• Introduction to Animal Experimentation: At Issue (Animal Experimentation 2013)

• DOC: Animal Rights (Current Issues, Annual 2003)

• Animal Rights (Environmental Encyclopedia 2011)

• Whether a Right or Not, Animals Should Be Treated Morally (The Rights of Animals, 2009)

• Preface to “Is Factory Farming an Ethical Way to Treat Animals?” (Factory Farming 2013)

• People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Environmental Encyclopedia, 2011)

• Introduction to Hunting: Opposing Viewpoints (Hunting, 2008)

• Introduction to The Fashion Industry: Opposing Viewpoints (The Fashion Industry, 2010)

• Animals Suffer Needlessly for Food Production (Vegetarianism, 2015)

• Factory Farming Ignores the Suffering of Animals (The Rights of Animals, 2009)

• This and That: The Investigator (Kelsey Braithwaite)

• Animals 2.0: a veterinarian and a theologian survey a brave new world of biotechnology

• Animals and Medical Science: A Vision of a New Era (David O. Wiebers 1994)

• Lab Test (Gill, Martha)

• Canada Introduces Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (Business Economics and Theory Collection)

• Extremist Animal Rights Activists Are Terrorists (Extremism, 2011)

• Extremist Animal Rights Activists Are Not Terrorists (Extremism, 2011)

• Medical Progress Depends on Animal Research (Animal Experimentation 2013)

• Rats and Mice are Important for Cancer Research (Animal Experimentation 2013)

• Mice Can Teach Us About Human Disease (Sharon Oosthoek)

• Rats Display Empathy, So Why Don’t Animal Experimenters? (Alka Chandna)

• Use of Chimpanzees in Scientific Research Should Be Banned (Animal Experimentation, 2013)

• Replacements Must Be Found for Animals in Scientific Research (Scientific Research 2015; Hope Ferdowsian)

• Not All Scientific Research on Animals Is Ethically Justified (Scientific Research 2015; Lori Gruen)

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