Dissent in the society is essential in making laws and reaching conclusions. Controversial issues often result in the formation of contradictory opinions. Therefore, debate becomes a necessity to prove one’s stance through a rhetorical analysis of the topic. One such debatable topic is animal testing. In 2012, it was “estimated that more than 115 million animals are used and/or killed in laboratory experiments each year around the world” (“Animal Use Statistics”). These innocent creatures are cruelly used in procedures such as biomedical experimentation, product and cosmetic testing, and scientific education. Jane Goodall, a primatologist, stated, “In no lab I have visited have I seen so many chimpanzees exhibit such intense fear. The screaming I heard when the chimpanzees were being forced to move toward the dreaded needle in their squeezed cages was, for me, absolutely horrifying” (“Harm and Suffering”). These comments were made while visiting a research laboratory in which animals where mercilessly being tested upon. Considering this, it is essential to realize that every organism has the right to freedom. Therefore, animal testing is a practice which needs to be banned for numerous reasons.
One of the most definite reasons contradicting the necessity of animal testing is the fact that animals are poor test subjects. In the biomedical field, animals are experimented upon to create vaccines, drugs, antibodies, hormones, etc., which can be used as a potential cure for human diseases. They are used as models for analyzing the chemical reactions in the human body by being inflicted with similar diseases. However, artificial induction of a human disease in an animal cannot imitate the complexity and affect of it in the human body. Furthermore, due to the difference in the anatomic, metabolic, cellular, and genetic composition of animals most experiments are not successful. Monkeys are considered to be very close to humans, but even they could not predict the potential effects of drugs on humans. For example, “monkeys treated with a therapeutic antibody (anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody TGN1412) did not predict the potentially fatal immune response that was triggered in humans” (“Failure of the Animal Model”). The variation in the type of animals used also decreases the validity of experiments because some animals show different results than others. Therefore, the translation to humans is not very predictable. According to “a 2004 study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 92 percent of drugs entering clinical trials following animal testing fail to be approved. Of those approved, half are withdrawn or relabeled due to severe or lethal adverse effects not detected during animal tests” (Capaldo). These trials inevitably fail, but the suffering and pain experienced by the animals cannot be compensated for.
Jeremy Bentham once said, referring to animals, “The question is not, can they reason, nor can they talk, but can they suffer” (“Harm and Suffering”)? Many animal rights activists consider animals to have the same rights as humans and object to their use as mere test subjects. Currently, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the “only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research” (“Animal Welfare Act”). However, it does not extensively cover all animals. Rats and mice are not protected by the AWA, and they are the most widely used animals in experimentation. In such trials animals are “subjected to pain, suffering, and captivity”, and this may result in “physical and psychological stress” (“Animal Experimentation”). According to a statistic, “More than 100 million animals suffer and die in the U.S. every year in cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics tests” (“Animal Testing 101”). These creatures are subject to inhumane produces which include: infecting them with diseases, poisoning for toxicity tests, burning skin, causing brain damage, long-term isolation, electric shocks, and immobilization of the animal’s body. Most of the animals die during the tests, or they are senselessly killed or euthanized after experiments because of the severe damage done to their bodies. All of these actions are unnecessarily being carried out regardless of the fact that alternatives exist.
According to a statistic, “9 out of every 10 candidate medicines that appear safe and effective in animal studies, fail when given to humans” (“About Animal Testing”). This statement emphasizes the unreliability of animal experiments, and therefore a more logical approach is the use of alternative methods. For example, “sophisticated human cell and tissue-based research methods allow researchers to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, vaccines, and chemical compounds” (“Animal Testing is Bad Science”). Certain inventions, like the HμREL biochip, enable researches to test the effects of drugs or chemicals on interacting organs by using living human cells. In-vitro cell and tissue cultures, in which the cells and tissues are grown in a laboratory environment, are also used to analyze the effects of various chemicals. For example, “to check the irritancy of chemicals previously Draize test was used” (Doke and Dhawale 223–229). It was a painful procedure carried out mainly on animals. An alternative to this is the bovine cornea organ culture in which “the bovine cornea is cultured up to three weeks in a laboratory, and various analytical methods are used to evaluate the toxicological effect of test chemical irritancy” (Doke and Dhawale 223–229).
Other alternatives include the process of microdosing in which human volunteers are substituted in place of animals. Adequate amounts of certain chemicals are given to the person which is enough cause cellular effects. However, the entire body is not harmed. Furthermore, EpiSkin, Epiderm, and SkinEthic are human equivalent models composed of artificial skin. They are used for testing the corrosion and irritation of the skin. The practice and endorsement of such models “can save thousands of rabbits each year from painful skin corrosion and irritation tests” (“Alternatives to Animal Tests”). This reduction in the harsh use of animals can also be achieved by the use of computer models of human organs. As stated by an organization, “computer models can be used to simulate diseases and to help scientists understand the way different substances can be used to treat disease” (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”). The presence of such alternatives truly questions the need for animals to undergo cruel and harmful experiments.
It is true that animal models have helped in both the medical and cosmetic sector. Animals have been used for many years to study human diseases and for the development and testing of different forms of treatment. Many big name cosmetic companies also rely on animal experimentation to test the safety of their products. These procedures have definitely helped save many human lives. However, the question which arises is whether animal testing is an absolute necessity in the face of new technologies and the rights of animals. As pointed out, “animal models for the study of human disease” and cosmetic products “have limitations” in predicting effects to the human body (Hajishengallis et al. 229). If a drug or product passes an animal test it does not necessarily mean that it will successfully translate to humans. Accordingly, “decades of animal experimentation have failed to cure or substantially ameliorate a very high percentage of chronic diseases, including cancers” (“Problems Associated with Animal Experimentation”). John Bailar, former editor-in-chief of the Journal of National Cancer Institute, stated that, “No substantial progress was made after a quarter century of effort focused on animal-modeled drug development” (“Problems Associated with Animal Experimentation”).
Drugs, products, and other chemicals will inevitably be tested on humans after undergoing animal tests. A substance cannot be distributed directly for human use after passing an animal test. As mentioned before, “9 out of every 10 candidate medicines that appear safe and effective in animal tests will fail when given to humans” (“About Animal Testing”). When considering these facts, animal testing seems to be an unessential procedure. With advancements in technology and research, animal testing no longer has the same significance which it did many years ago. Regardless of the fact that some of the alternative methods to animal testing are expensive, in-vitro tests are relatively cheaper. The amount of money which is wasted on animal tests can be invested into technology, such as computer models, which would be more useful. Researches realize that animals cannot speak, but they do not realize that animals have hearts. They experience pain and long to be placed in their natural habitats instead of cruelly being used as test subjects.
Many scientists would consider completely eradicating animal testing to be impractical. Therefore, for a successful transition to alternative means, firstly the number of animals used in experimentation has to be reduced. During this transition, the animals which are tested upon should be protected. It is also essential that the test methods used should be refined to inflict minimal damage to their bodies. The last stage in saving animals lives would be completely replacing experimentation on them. Reasons such as limitations, pain, and alternatives fully justify the need for this to happen. In every debate a compromise has to be reached at the end, but in this case researchers have to accept that animals’ lives cannot be compromised. The human race will not disappear if animal testing is ceased, but the animal race will if it is continued.