It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good.
~ Margaret Mead
~ Margaret Mead
Animal testing - well, that's a tricky ground to tread. This is such a topic that most often attracts mixed opinions when asked about one's stand on it.
While many of us would unanimously agree upon the factors of cruelty and right to life of these creatures, we cannot completely rule out the necessity to conduct tests on animals for furthering the cause of scientific progress for the advancement of civilization in the fields of medicine, technology and much more.
The use of non human animals for carrying out scientific experiments and in vivo testing is not a recent phenomenon.
For as long as scientific and research has been around, since way before the time of Archimedes, inventors and discoverers of medicine, drugs, cosmetics and various technical trappings have been using animals to test the efficacy and the success/failure of their endeavors.
Also, especially in the field of medicine, the use of animals for testing the effects of various drugs as well as for conducting researches for developing newer treatment options is extremely common as well as necessary for the betterment of life and benefit to all of mankind.
Since the use of human subjects for extensive laboratory testing and scientific experimentation is undesirable and, most of the time, illegal, resorting to animal testing remains as the only option in most cases.
Continuing in this line of thought, let's take a look at both sides of the animal testing debate to understand the bases upon which these arguments are founded.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
The following sentences discussing animal testing pros and cons as well as the why and why not of this matter throw considerable light on this necessary evil which, despite all controversies, remains the sole option in most cases for the progress of science to achieve overall benefit. Let's take a look.
Pro Animal Testing Arguments
- Had it not been for animal testing, a number of lifesaving drugs and surgical procedures would not have been around. This means that the medical breakthroughs that are responsible for treating or curing diseases that were considered terminal and assumed epidemic proportions (e.g: tuberculosis, cholera) just about 50 years ago would not have been around.
- It's not just humans that benefit from such testing. A lot of cures for non-human animals and pets also attribute their success and development to testing on animals. This is especially true in case of various animal and pet vaccines and shots.
- There is a lot of similarity in how humans and certain animals like rats, guinea pigs, etc. react to certain chemicals, pathogens and medications. This makes it convenient to conduct tests on various animals to project reactions and benefits in humans. Besides, using humans for the purpose of these tests is considered unethical and illegal.
- Testing on animals is not as casual a phenomenon. The license for testing on animals is granted only when it is sufficiently proved that there are no available alternatives. Besides, these laboratory experiments are conducted under the expert panel of professionals including veterinarians and members of various public and animal welfare organizations.
Anti Animal Testing Arguments
- The first and foremost argument that is presented against animal testing deals with the issue of animal cruelty. It is often argued that these tests cause a lot of pain to the lab animals and the condition in which they are held captive for experimentation are not at all healthy.
- The second argument rests on the issue of selfishness. The fact that we make animals to suffer just so that humans can have a better life points towards callous and grossly selfish motives.
- There have been quite a few instances where drugs that were tested on animals and passed as safe turned out to be dangerous and ineffective when consumed by humans. The cases of the drugs Thalidomide and Clioquinol are prominent instances where what proved safe when tested on animals proved fatal when consumed by humans.
- Violation of animal rights is a prominent argument against animal testing. Supporters of this view state that if testing and experimenting on human subjects is unethical or illegal, then treating animals' rights to life any differently is wrong.
If you think about it, both sides of the argument bring to light some major issues that cannot be ignored or casually overlooked when talking about animal testing.
While on one hand it is necessary for the progress of science and technology, it is also unethical to ignore the right to life of non-human organisms when the death of a human subject during an experiment would amount to murder.
However, as said earlier, animal testing is a necessary evil that cannot be done without, as is evidenced by the large number of breakthroughs and discoveries whose successes are attributed to it.
The least that can be done in this regard is to make sure that the animals suffer the least, have access to top veterinary care and are kept under standard conditions of health and sanitation for their contribution and sacrifice for furthering the cause of science.