Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.- Professor Charles R. Magel
It is difficult to compare the importance of human life over animal life. One would believe that since animals do not have any significant relationships to harbor, neither do certain species contribute much to the environment, they can be picked up for testing the effects of various products (cosmetic, prescription drugs and even household compounds) on them, and utilizing the results to conclude about their effects on human beings. This practice has generated a lot of debate among the propagators of animal experimentation and animal rights activists. These groups believe that this practice is most inhuman and degrading for animals that do not have the ability to defend themselves. As a result of this debate have emerged several pros and cons of the practice of experimenting on animals, which will give you a clear picture about the effects of this practice.
The Upside of Animal Experimentation
While many of you may argue about even considering the pros and cons of animal experimentation, you must be aware of the fact that in the past, and to this date, there are a lot of breakthroughs, especially in the world of medicine, that have been made by means of such tests. Here's a look into the upside of animal testing.
- Animal studies have proven beneficial over time, to prevent humans from the effects of certain toxic drugs and other products. In many countries, it is mandatory for drugs to be tested on animals before they are sold in the market, so as to minimize their side effects. In such a case, if animal experimentation were to be banned, the entire human race would be put at a high risk, as most research in medicine would come to a standstill.
- Some believe that if animal testing is done in a manner to minimize the possibility of pain and death, it is alright to conduct experiments that may result in great breakthroughs when it comes to modern medicine. These people believe that reducing human suffering should be a primary priority, and if animals have to suffer a little to protect an entire race, it is acceptable.
- The species closest to the human race are those of chimpanzees and monkeys, where 99% of the genes among them are similar. As such, tests performed on such species are important indicators of the effects of different products and drugs on the human body. Along with these, there are several other animals that resemble the human make up, and therefore, experts believe that the results of such tests will prove effective to treat humans. It is also believed that it is inhuman to perform tests on human beings when there are various animal species that can be put to test.
The Downside of Animal Experimentation
On the other hand, the kind of animal cruelty that is meted out in the name of testing and experimentation cannot be justified. Here's a look into the downside of animal testing.
- While propagators of animal testing believe that it is inhuman to test a human being in the presence of a 'lower' species, those who are against animal experimentation simply ask, how humane is it to take an animal that cannot provide its assent or dissent for the purpose of testing to protect human beings who treat it so badly?
- Some of the animals that tests are conducted on are not even close to the human physiology, such as rabbits and rats. It can never be guaranteed that the effect of a particular drug on an animal will produce the same effect on a human being. If such a procedure goes wrong, how helpful is it to treat animals in such a manner, that is putting at risk both animal and human life? Furthermore, since animals such as chimpanzees and monkeys are so similar to human beings, it means they are also as intelligent and conscious. Isn't it then, as inhuman to experiment on such animals as it is to experiment on human beings themselves?
- As mentioned earlier, based on the various statistics, it has been found that the treatment that is meted out to animals in the process of testing and experimentation cannot even be imagined. They are not given the right amount and type of anesthesia, that makes them susceptible to extreme suffering due to the experiments performed on them. Moreover, since animals are kept away from their natural habitats, the responses they evoke and the effects of certain drugs on them may be altered.
- Forcefully injecting a virus such as that of HIV or other toxic drugs in animals, or cloning them, just to understand its effects on the human form is absolutely unacceptable. As has been said earlier, an animal does not have the capability to express pain and suffering, and it is this drawback that human beings take advantage of to perform these dangerous experiments on.
- With the advances in science and technology, it is impossible to believe that there is no alternative to animal testing. As of now, there are methods such as growing and testing human tissue cultures rather than animals. With the advent of such methods, animal rights activists suggest that animals can definitely be spared the horror of such a bleak existence.
Every argument has its pros and cons, and similar is the case with animal experimentation. No matter how hard you try, distinguishing between the right and wrong when it comes to an issue so sensitive is indeed challenging. However, on a personal note, yes, it is absolutely inhuman to consider animals worthless objects that have no purpose but to serve as the means to an end that will benefit only the human race. If you notice, this whole practice, and the respective pros and cons emerge from emotion. On one hand it is emotion that guides us to such measures to keep the human race going, and on the other hand it is this very emotion that has our hearts go out to all the defenseless animals that are put through such tests and experiments. Finally, our sole endeavor should be to come up with a middle path, that will secure the lives of both species, and enable them to lead a peaceful life.