Essay on Animal Rights and Medical Experiments

The use of animals for scientific purposes in medical experiments to receive a better understanding of a particular disease, to develop new drugs or to check the security of a drug raises many conflicting reactions. Some people strongly believe that there are no moral problems in this issue, while the others rush in the opposite direction with extreme opinions ready to justify animal welfare as a whole with violence. In fact, a recent survey of public opinion found that, for instance, citizens of the United Kingdom either refer to the experiments on animals with disapproval and cautiously, or believe that they should be banned completely. Still, even though there are a lot of people who can provide stable and considerable arguments to both sides of the argument around the world it is clear that abandoning animal experiments is a dubious decision since in the 21st century it is the only way to prevent human experiments.

First of all, experiments on animals present a huge industry. Each year only British scientists use almost 3 million of animals for research purposes. Most often these are rats and mouse, but 1% of them includes rabbits, and 0.1% – monkeys. Mostly, these animals are used for development and testing of medicines to treat human disease, although every year about 17,000 animals are used to verify the safety of food supplements and household equipment chemistry. At the same time, there is a fact that now a number of animals exposed to similar experiments is significantly reduced (Rowan 79). However, in addition to all this, undoubtedly, there is a negative side of this issue since, for instance, the Ministry of Defense can test different types of weapons on animals almost without publishing such data. Still, generally, traditional tests on animals gradually taper to nothing, and there are new areas of experimental study (Mukerjee 94). For example, now more animals are used for experiments on gene engineering (Anderegg et al. 6). In some cases, human genes are implanted in an animal. Such transgenic animals can develop diseases which are very similar to human diseases. Studying impact of the disease on the body of transgenic animals, scientists can find out the causes of human diseases. Consequently, this gives them much more opportunities to develop new types of treatment of several human diseases (Rowan 79).

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Secondly, pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories also use animals for the manufacture of medicaments. One of the first examples of such research was a sheep giving milk, which contains a human protein – alpha-1-antitrypsin. This protein is extremely vital for doctors whose patients suffer from a form of death liver disease. Furthermore, scientists learned how to clone animals, and thus the world heard about a famous clone of ship – Dolly. Hence, clones proved to be the exact copies of animals obtained by a method, which is a genetic equivalent of photocopying. A human being has been engaged in genetic modification of other species already for more than one millennium. Modern cows and sheep are the fruit of centuries of selective breeding. Whole generations of farmers were consciously growing animals with a certain type of wool or ability to give a lot of milk.

Likewise, traditional dog breeding has given a world such dangerous and aggressive breed, as the American Pit Bull Terrier or wolf-dog hybrids (Botting and Morrison 84). Animals produced by transgenic modifications and cloning are an entirely different category because with the help of these methods desirable qualities are selected far more accurately than with regular selection. However, in the moral terms between breeding and modern genetic modification there are no significant differences since genetic modification is only an additional effective way to achieve the same results (Anderegg et al. 6). The admissibility or unacceptability of transgenic experiments on animals should be judged based on the same principles which can be used in considering all other experiments on animals (Anderegg et al. 8). Cloning of animals may seem acceptable to people if its purpose is the production of new medications, but there is a potential that the same technology subsequently will be applied to a man as well – and this is what most people find completely unacceptable. Hence, transgenic technology coupled with cloning gives scientists a possibility to produce hundreds of identical animals capable of producing human proteins for treating thousands of sick people (Rowan 79).

Thirdly, if finally people decide that causing suffering to animals cannot have any place in the society of the 21st century they will have to think carefully over how acceptable it will be to use animals to test commercial products which are difficult to be called vital. Do people need new chemical substances in food and cosmetic industry so much they can cause suffering to animals used in their tests for safety (Botting and Morrison 84)? Although the most people enjoy cosmetics exclusively due to the reasons of fashion, how to be with those who resort to cosmetics, for example, in order to hide scars on a face and feel comfortable in the company of others? Is it possible to justify animal suffering in scientific experiments with commercial profit? Therefore, if people refuse from experiments conducted on animals for commercial purposes, then, logically, they should think about those animals grown on modern farms with industrial methods (Mukerjee 94). Consequently, the whole range of human attitudes and lifestyles should be drastically changed. Supporters of animal rights believe that many drugs, produced by pharmaceutical firms and tests on animals are just not needed (American Association for Laboratory Animal Science). Modern drugs are really able to cure many diseases, but cure for numerous diseases, such as psychiatric disorders and many kinds of cancers, does not exist yet. What is more, before a scientist tests a new medication on patients it must be previously tested on animals under the law (Botting and Morrison 83). Additionally, although now more drugs are created to achieve a fairly narrow, specific outcome, sometimes during trials on animal unexpected side effects that prohibit the use of drugs for the treatment of humans are detected. The drug tests on animals also help doctors to determine which dose will be safe for human beings. If to take into account the suffering of people from those diseases for which there is no effective treatment, it is completely understandable why many people consider drug tests on animals justified. As to whether experiments on animals bring clear benefits to the health of people, scientists continue to jealously protect their right to carry out experiments on animals that might not be directly related to the health of people. If people consider animal experiments acceptable only when they bring benefit of a person, such a view may seem to be totally unjustified. Additionally, scientists cite an example of cases such as when biologists have studied the formation of eye cells of Drosophila flies during its development. It was found that one gene which is responsible for the development of these cells plays a vital role in the formation of human cancer tumors (Anderegg et al. 3). At the same time, in the beginning of the study none could even imagine that it will lead to the emergence of a new class of anti-cancer drugs (Anderegg et al. 3). Therefore, no one can be 100% sure whether one experimental case would bring more good or harm than the other.

Speaking about counterarguments, more than 150 million animals are killed per year in laboratories over the world. The main part of the test animals – 65% – is used in medical research for testing drugs and new therapies. Fundamental research (medical, military, space, etc.) accounted for 26% of animals. 8% of animals die due to toxicity tests in the development of cosmetics, industrial compounds, etc. Every year, millions of lives of human younger brothers are taken during painful experiments. Experimental animals are burned, scalded, poisoned and killed with hunger, subjected to electric discharges and accustomed to drugs which cause stomach ulcers, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, syphilis, and AIDS (Anderegg et al. 3). Their eyes can be removed surgically, scientists also cause bone fractures and brain damage. In military studies animals are poisoned with gas, cyanide, or shot with plastic bullets and shells. At the same time, people have entered the third millennium, so human spiritual and physical progress demands that people remove all obstacles to the civilized development (Barnard and Kaufman 80). Thus, people need to understand that animal experiments require huge financial costs, while this money could be successfully spent on an advertising campaign for a healthy lifestyle. The need to take medications would be reduced to a minimum. Plus, analysis of the achievements of modern medicine has shown that medical progress is largely associated with clinical observations of patients, not with experiments on animals (Barnard and Kaufman 80). This contribution includes treatment of such diseases as hepatitis, rheumatism, fever, ulcerative colitis, and thyroid disease.

Once people carefully weigh the “pros” and “cons”, they can face a major question which is: are we ready to act in accordance with our beliefs? Perhaps, people might start boycotting all products that have been tested on animals, or to protest against some or all experiments on animals. Maybe people want to stand up for these experiments because they help to maintain people’s health, or because people are firmly convinced that within certain limits scientists have a right to follow the thread of their research. However, at the same time it is doubtful whether aggressive assertiveness of some scholars or bombs placed in the labs by extremists of the movement for the protection of animals will be able to convince people in the correctness of one or the other point of view. Summing up, opponents of animal experiments argue their position mainly because experiments are not effective enough; they cause pain, suffering, and death to animals, at a time when there are alternatives to animal experiments. In addition, some people talk about the current experiments, such as vivisection experiments, in which the importance of anesthesia during animal research is often omitted. Still, the position of people against animal tests proved to be weaker when compared to the supporters. Instead, they led more powerful arguments in defense of their position, pointing out that current research on animals is not a desire to make fun of defenseless creatures, but a desire to make human life better and safer. Many people provide efficient links to legislation acts, research papers and statements of competent professionals.

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