Animal Experimentation: Beauty and the Beasts

For ages, the relationship between humans and animals has remained that of predators and preys. Since the dawn of humanity, we have outrageously hunted millions of feral animals for meat and clothing. As we evolve, the increasing complexity and advancement of society demands the testing of newly invented medicines and the safety of other products. Such scientific duties, apparently, have been much eased off by animal experimentation, which has so far been corroborated to be of “stellar” accuracy and effectiveness. Nevertheless, this practice has roused intensely heated debates, with one side defending it for its benefits to society, and another detesting this exploitation of animals on the basis of ethics. As far as I am against maliciously inflicting sufferings on any sentient creature for the sake of human beings, I also believe that animal experimentation, if done for a just cause and in a well-regulated manner, retains certain advantages.

Throughout the history, the scientific community has persistently advocated for laboratory animal research and testing, pointing to the fact that it is critical to a plethora of valuable advancements in science and medication. Being aware that humans and certain animals share almost exact genomes and anatomies, scientists are much inclined to conduct tests on animals as an alternative to potentially harmful experimentation on humans for the purpose of intensifying human vigor and saving millions of lives. Undeniably, the knowledge obtained from animal experimentation is tremendously imperative in forming a solid understanding of how the human body functions, which gives rise to momentous medical breakthroughs. Indeed, in the absence of the extensive testing of primates, rabbits or mice, cancerous tumors would hardly be suppressed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, debilitating viruses could barely be prevented from an early stage of life through vaccinations, and all HIV/AIDS patients would automatically be declared the death sentence. Some may even say that if not for lab animal testing, the world would not know names of Louis Pasteur, Galen and Ivan Pavlov — it would rather be a horrific dystopia where even the tiniest germ is powerful enough to obliterate the whole human race.

However, that is not to repudiate the claim that implementing experiments on innocent animals is in general barbaric and morally offensive to the animals themselves. As alive creatures fully capable of experiencing pain and pleasure, animals are entitled to the same moral status and basic rights as those of human beings and thus deserve equal treatment. Yet, what is unveiled by numerous studies concerning animal experimentation is pretty much an ugly plight — these organisms are constant victims of forced feeding and inhalation, food and water deprivation, extended periods of physical restraint, and denied freedom of control over their own lives. Under the mask of this form of “sacrifice” are more than 100 million animals “poisoned, burned, crippled, and abused in other ways” in U.S. labs each year, according to statistics by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — and this number is yet only tip of the iceberg. Obviously, the real issue here should not be about treating animals to showcase the dignity of humans, but rather about truly respecting the innate rights of animals and striving for decency in every way possible.

In spite of the aforementioned assertion that animal experimentation is nothing more than a vicious form of animal abuse, deducing a final, definite conclusion on the issue seems too much of a challenging task, considering the immense values this method brings to the human world. It appears to me as a matter of compromise — that tests on animals may be carried out only if they serve a righteous, validated purpose and adhere to strict rules of regulation. Admittedly, when it comes to the aims of animal testing, statistics are grim — Cruelty Free International reports that only 19% of the total number of animal experiments in EU are designed to research and develop human and veterinary medicines. The rest are either nonsensical or wasteful, with commonly reported purposes being speculative biological research (which is accompanied by an incredibly slim chance of leading to medical advancement and approved treatments), cosmetics ingredient experimenting, and ridiculous enough, curiosity. This nasty truth needs a collaborative solution, in which all governments agree upon forbidding animal testing driven by such ill-natured mindset and openly encouraging the public to boycott businesses that feed on dirty deeds to animals. Furthermore, the way these experiments are operated must be meticulously governed by the principle framework of 3Rs — replacement, reduction, and refinement — for it serves to minimize the number of and the sufferings inflicted on the animals involved, and fosters the substitution by alternative research strategies whenever possible. Only by this means could we guarantee the ethicality of animal experimentation, while still not obstructing the progression of society in terms of medical safety.

Long gone are the days when humans massacred lab animals freely for personal pleasures while remaining oblivious of the act’s atrocity. Today, animal testing, if truly necessitated, must be reduced as much as possible and responsibly regulated, for we need to balance our relationship with nature in a win-win approach that doesn’t hurt living creatures but contributes to the advancement of science and medication to enhance our chance of survival.

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