Debates about Animal Testing
This essay gives a review of literature about animal experiments. In the introduction, the paper presents a scientific definition of animal experiments and presents a variety of such studies. The second portion of the work presents diversified arguments about the concept. This includes proponent and opponent perspectives and finally gives a personal recommendation on alternative research approaches.
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Animal testing refers to the use of animals in experiments and development projects. It is also known as animal experimentation and is usually employed to determine toxicity and dosage of drugs which are intended to be used for human treatment. This is meant to carry out efficacy test on drugs prior to clinical tests. Such researches have been conducted in various universities, pharmaceutical companies, medical schools as well as defense farms. The research is also practiced in various scientific fields of study, such as genetics, behavioral studies, biomedical studies, developmental biology, cosmetic testing, toxicology tests, and organ transplantation.
Although millions of animals ranging from various species such as frogs, rats, mice, dogs, and variety of birds are used for such experiments, the concept of animal testing has remained very controversial among the researchers. As a result, those who have raised concern on this concept are either viewed as supporters or opponents to the scientific ideology (Badge, 2013). Thus, the argument that supports or opposes the use of animals in trial experiments remains a contested discourse attracting sharp differences between champions of animal welfare and scientists.
Opponents to this scientific technology argue that animal testing is not an efficient and accurate method of approving human medication. This argument is supported by various cases where drugs that were approved as safe after testing on animals turned out to be very harmful to human health. For instance, thalidomide was successfully tested on animals and introduced in the drug market in 1956 as a sedative. It was then widely used by pregnant women to counter nausea, which is associated with pregnancy (Badge, 2013). However, the long-term effect of the drug was discovered to be very dangerous. For instance, the drug was associated with several birth defects in children. Although it was banned in 1961, close to 15 000 victims were affected and several others died (Badge, 2013).
Another typical example of medication which proved successful in animal testing, but failed in human beings was the use of Vioxx as an anti-arthritis drug. This drug was widely tested in animals and humans and was further approved by over 70 regulatory agencies across the globe. The drug was later discovered to cause heart attack leading to its withdrawal from the market in 2004. The statistical analysis proved that out of 80 million proscriptions, the drug caused between 88 000 and 139 000 heart attacks with 30 to 40 percent of these leading to death (Hofer et al, 2004). From this analogy, it can be concluded that animal testing is not a fair representation of humanity. This is based on the fact that only a few animals are used for testing drugs which are meant to be consumed by billions of patients. As a result, the process may not reveal certain side effects, which can only be displayed in one out of hundreds or thousands of consumers (Watson, 2009).
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On the other hand, animal testing has also been opposed by other scholars on ethical grounds. Those who hold to this stand argue that individual participation in medical research should be voluntary and based on well explained consequences. Since animals do not have conscience to give their consent, animal testing is unethical as it infringes on animal rights and freedoms (Watson, 2009).
Others have also opposed animal testing on the grounds that it is very expensive and time-consuming as compared to theother modes of research. In addition, the method can also cause serious injuries to animals which might even lead to death. Furthermore, it interferes with the natural order of ecology. This is based on the fact, that once the animals are captured, they may not be released to their natural habitat, hence resulting to ecological imbalance. The process of capturing them is also cruel and may lead to psychological torture of animals (Watson, 2009).
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However, some arguments have also been propagated in support of animal experiments. Such researchers argue that although animals are not perfect of human beings, they have a wider range of similarities in terms of physiological, organ, and tissue systems. The similarities between animals and humans outweigh the differences (Fowler & Miller, 2008). Such scientists also argue that certain nature of reaches works better and faster in animals than in humans. For instance, genetically and reproductive experiments can take a shorter time in animals such as rats, which mature and reproduce faster than humans (Parel, 2007).
To respond the ethical issues behind the act, those who support animal experiment argue that researchers give maximum care to the animals and deal with them in a friendly way. Although they are taken away from their natural environment, they are given alternative favorable environment. In response to death or injury of animals in the process of research, they argue that such are not intentional and are more ethical exposing humans to such injuries and deaths (Watson, 2009).
Animal testing is perceived as the use of animals to experiment medication which is intended to be used on humans. The debate on this concept has attracted concerns from both supporters and opponents. Opponents tend to have stronger points in this argument than supporters. As a result, medical researchers are encouraged to employ alternative research methods such as micro-dosing and in-vitro testing in order to substitute animal testing. This will enhance medical technology which does not interfere with the health of animals, but consider them as significant entities in the ecosystem.