ShouldAnimals be used for Medical Research?
Opponentsof using animals for medical research experiments argue that it isnot necessary today because there are other equally feasiblealternatives. Indeed, they acknowledge that cures for AIDS,Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, cancer, Parkinson’sdisease, and other countless diseases are main the main subjects ofmodern medical research. Interestingly, they further contend that itshould be banned or so severely restricted so that it completelystops such experimentation. The question to all animal rightsactivists and other groups opposed to using animals in medicalresearch experiments is it is possible to adopt other viablealternatives to animals? A significant number of scientists involvedin medical research agree that the current research community has nofeasible alternative to use of animals as subjects of medicalexperiments. The alternatives that opponents cite as viable are onlyuseful in appropriate situations. In most cases, scientists do nothave good substitutes for animals in testing reactions to new drugsand chemical substances and as subjects for new medical devices andsurgical techniques. Indeed, there are various techniques thatmedical researchers use to minimize use of animals. They include cellextracts, organ studies invitro, tissue,computer-assisted mathematical modeling, graphical tools that modelbiological and pharmacological processes, and human beings who havegiven consent to non-invasive and non-hazardous procedures. The factis that there is still a number of techniques, which researchers haveemployed as alternatives to use of animals but cannot, serve assubstitutes.
Newdrugs, procedures, and medical devices have to be tested on animalswhose body systems have similarities to human systems. An example ofa procedure that was discovered after many experiments and trials onpigs is laparoscopic surgery. Using pigs that were bred specificallyfor medical trials and experiments, scientists and researchersdeveloped the laparoscopic procedure in which surgical operations aredone without maximum invasive surgery(Merrell,Ronald, and Robert 241). The breakthrough was the idea behind thediscovery of using cameras and other small instruments to make smallincisions of an inch or less. The devices involved in the procedureare ports, which are small plastic tubes through which cameras andspecialized tools such as surgical catheters are introduced to thespecific part of the body where the surgery will be done. It is wouldbe unrealistic to imagine it would still be possible to make such alife-changing breakthrough without using animals. The similaritiesbetween animals’ and human systems normally inform decisions toconduct human trials. Additionally, tests on animals helps to revealunanticipated dangers that would otherwise afflict human subjectsduring trials. It is noteworthy that drugs that appear promising invitrosometimesprove to be ineffective or dangerous when introduced in a functionalbiological system regardless of using an animal or a human being asthe subject of a trial.
Throughouttime, animal use as subjects of medical research has beeninstrumental as a way to avoid unanticipated dangers of certaindrugs, medical procedures, and medical devices during trials.Notwithstanding the extensive animal testing and human trials, somedrugs have still been to found be unfit for human use. Fortunately,tragic outcomes of new drugs, medical procedures, and medical devicesoccur only with a small fraction of marketed drugs. For example,Pondomin and Redux diet drugs were withdrawn from the market becausethey caused heart-valve irregularities when taken in combination withanother drug, pherntermine. As such, national and internationallegislation that mandate medical researchers to test new drugs,medical devices, and procedures on animals before carrying out humantrials and general distribution are the reason there are few or nocases of medical surprises. Otherwise, millions of lives could be injeopardy, first because drugs would be administered under veryuncertain circumstances, and, second, because companies will stopproducing drugs for fear of class action product liability law suits.
Useof animals in medical experiments provides different experimentalmodels that scientists cannot replicate using human beings assubjects. They are fed with identical diets and monitor. Forinstance, inbred mice show that certain animals have an identicalgenetic make-up hence, researchers can make comparisons of variousmedical procedures on animals they find to have identical geneticfeatures. Some animals are biologically similar to human beings.Thus, they become ideal subjects for experiments on particulardiseases. For example, monkeys are often the ideal models for poliodrugs tests while rabbits for atherosclerosis. The successful use ofthe polio vaccine is a product of protracted tests on monkeys. Today,the safety of polio vaccines owes its certainty to continued tests onmonkeys. Additionally, it is infeasible to make new medical productsusing human beings as subjects or using human tissue such as stemcells. Medical researchers can make monoclonal antibodies usingmodern biotechnology. It is therefore worth concluding that usinganimals as subjects of experimental medical research has manybenefits especially for mammals, which share many evolutionaryfeatures with human beings (Spiegel 26). It is been argued by thoseopposed to using animals that such experiments expose animals todeath or incapacitation. Opposition based that death andincapacitation as the rationale downplays the fact that scientistscreate breeding colonies specifically for research. An estimated 17to 22 million vertebrates are used in experiments annually ("SCIENCE,MEDICINE, AND ANIMALS” 4). 85 per cent of animals bred in coloniesfor purposes of medical research are rodents. The number is 1 percent less the number of vertebrates killed for food and othernon-medical purposes. The logical counterargument is that killinganimals for food aims to further human interests such as survival andgrooming (for the case of using animals hides to make leather shoes,jackets, and bags). Thus, using animals to get the right bestmedicine, procedures, and devices for medical advancement also aimsto further the human interest of survival.
Theworld of medicine has had a lot of life-changing discoveries as aresult of using animals for medical research. Many of the discoveriescould not and still are not possible without using animals as testsubjects. To name a few, it is plausible to name and explain medicaldiscoveries in various centuries. In the 1600s, using animals inmedical research enabled scientists to understand blood circulationand how the lungs function (Giridharan, Vijay Kumar, and Vasantha 2).In the 1800s, medical researchers discovered how to use vaccines tostimulate immunity . In the 1900s, animal research led to thediscovery of the working and reproduction of monoclonal antibodies. The early 2000s, witnessed an improvement in knowledge andmedical applications involving gene manipulation, auto-immunedisorders, and invitro fertilization.
Usinganimals in human medical research is often condemned for two majorreasons. The first reason is that the process violates the rights ofanimals (Kohen 2). The second reason is that the process imposesavoidable suffering to the sentient creatures. Neither of thesereasons provides a sound argument to influence a change of policy inusing animals as subjects of human medical research. The firstargument proposes a mistaken view of rights while the second argumentis simply a miscalculation of consequences. Unlike human beings,animals do not have inherent rights. The right conception of a rightmust be understood as a claim that one party may have againstanother. A single person, a group of people, or a community, andpossibly all human beings can register a claim of a violation of aright by another person . Rights claims constitute many aspects ofhuman endeavor such as repayment of loans, or state interference,nondiscrimination by employers and many others. Thus, thecomprehension of rights must be in tandem with who holds the right.There are also other alternative sources of rights than make it acomplex subject. Some rights are provided by the constitution as thesupreme law while others emanate from legislation. Other rights aregrounded from morality, but they lack a legal claim. All thesedescriptions of rights in cognizance of targets, sources, and contentdepict human beings as moral agents who have inherentself-consciousness in which they design a moral order. Animals lackthe capacity to make moral judgments from which human beings makeclaims. They cannot respond to moral claims hence they lack rightsand they also lack the potential to possess inherent rights.Opposition to using animals in research negates the logicaldescription of right as contended by philosophical thought.
Althoughit is the obligation human beings to treat other sentient creaturesin a humane manner, it is not the same as treating them as thoughthey have human-like rights (Nobis 44). The principle ofnon-malfeasance holds that man has the inherent responsibility toavoid gratuitous harm to animals as sentient creatures Proponents ofthis view also invoke the principle of beneficence. The principle ofbeneficence places the general obligation of protection to animals onhuman beings as sentient creatures now because they are reasonablywithin their power. Both views thrive on a misguided assumption ofrights to animals as though they are applicable in the same scope asthey are for human beings. The outright objection to these kinds ofviews is that human beings are one of a kind and that they can onlybe the subject of medical experiments upon providing personal consent(Wolf, et al 868). Even when a human being cannot provide consent forone reason or the other, they are still part of the human moralcommunity. Consent is voluntary and not under duress hence, callingfor inherent respect from fellow human beings. Animals may not be oneof a kind because they belong to various species and they lack theability to provide voluntary consent in principle or withhold it forpurposes of making a moral choice .
Itis true that animals experience a certain degree of suffering andthey ought not to be subjected to such needless suffering. Theargument of animal sentience holds that using them in experimentscauses them pain and distress. However, the argument makesunwarranted imposition of pain in manner that assumes that all typesof medical experiments impose pain and distress on animals. Theargument is also based on the assumption that all animals share equalstanding in terms of being perceived on moral grounds (Carruthers 1).In this case, a dog, a monkey, or a wolf has no moral differencehence, the pain and distress they experience must be seen as thesame. Proponents of such a view contend that scientists have unjustpreference for the human species to other species, a phenomenon theyrefer to as “speciesism”.
PeterSinger was the first scholar to coin arguments that condemnedspeciesism. Singer compared using animals in medical experiments toracism. Racism, in his view, involves violating the principle ofequality by acting in manner that gives greater weight to theinterests of one’s own race whenever the interests of that raceconflict with those of people from another race (Misselbrook 2). Healso compared it to a sexist who acts in favor of the interests ofmembers of the gender they belong. Similarly, scientists who favorthe use of animals in medical experiments are speciesists becausethey allow the interests of the human species to be greater than theinterests of other animal species. The verbal parallelism used bySinger does not offer a sound argument in defense of animal rights.Unlike sexes and racial groups, the difference between the humanspecies and other animal species is universally accepted.Additionally, there is no justified moral distinction between races,but there is a moral distinction between animals and human beingsbecause the latter is capable of engaging in moral reflection, makeautonomous moral decisions, and make a moral community with moralrules that are discernible by all members (Herzog 341). It is alsoimportant to note that making distinctions on how to treat differentspecies is vital. It draws the line between the manner in which dogsshould be treated and the way human beings should treat one another.As such, human beings deserve a treatment that befits their status asmoral beings.
Inconclusion, animals still remain the ideal subjects for medicalexperiments. Human beings use animals for many other atrociousfunctions that are not in a course that is worth comparable tomedical research. Various arguments have been fronted to oppose usinganimals as research or test subjects. Animals continue to be used asfood, a source of material for making clothes, shoes, and many otherproducts, and in the provision of labor. Arguments opposing the useof animals in medical research fail to make the all-importantdistinction between human beings and other animals in terms of thepossession of rights and the criteria that determines those creaturesthe accordance of rights. As long as animals continue to be thesource of food and material for human beings, there are no viableethical justifications against using them for purposes of discoveringnew drugs, medical procedures, and medical devices.
Carruthers,Peter. Theanimals issue: Moral theory in practice.Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Cohen,Carl. "The case for the use of animals in biomedical research."(1986).
Fox,Michael Allen. Thecase for animal experimentation: An evolutionary and ethicalperspective.Berkeley^ eCalifornia California: University of California Press,1986.
Giridharan,N. V., Vijay Kumar, and Vasantha Muthuswamy. "Use of animals inscientific research." IndianCounc Med Res (2000):1-27.
Herzog,Harold. "Human morality and animal research: Confessions andquandaries." TheAmerican Scholar 62.3(1993): 337-349.
Merrell,Ronald C., and Robert M. Olson. LaparoscopicSurgery: A Colloquium.Springer Science & Business Media, 1998.
Misselbrook,David. Speciesism.Christian Medical Fellowship, 2004.
Nobis,Nathan. "Carl Cohen`s ‘kind’arguments for animal rights andagainst human rights." Journalof applied philosophy 21.1(2004): 43-59.
Spiegel,Marjorie. "The dreaded comparison: Human and animal slavery."(1996).
Wolf,P. A., et al. "THE CASE FOR THE USE OF ANIMALS IN BIOMEDICALRESEARCH."
"SCIENCE,MEDICINE, AND ANIMALS." Institute of Medicine. Science,Medicine, and Animals.Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1991.doi:10.17226/10089. Retrieved from:http://www.nap.edu/read/10089/chapter/2