I Opppose the Use of Animals for Medical Research
Speech for ELE 3706 Persuasion and Dialogue for Leaders “I oppose using animals for medical research” Is this crucial…or cruelty? This is the first question that occurred to me when I first knew about animal testing. As an animal lover myself, I often question whether animal experimentation is really essential in today’s world of advanced medical science. This topic has indeed sparked much debate among animal rights groups, scholars and scientists. As a supporter of animal rights myself, I would like to propose against the use of animals for medical research.
The history of animal testing goes back to the 3rd centuries BC, with Aristotle among the first to perform experiments on living animals. Since then, various diseases like hepatitis B and polio have been treated owing to medications that were developed from animal tests. Results from medical research on animals have also led to improvement in medical procedures like blood measurement, lung and heart disease diagnosis. But…what has been neglected? Each year in the United States, an estimated 70 million animals are maimed, blinded, force-fed chemicals, genetically altered, and otherwise hurt and killed in the name of science.
And this is just United States alone. Animals go through severe pain during the tests. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 2006, about 7% of the animals were used in studies that would cause pain that was not relieved. In others, anesthesia is used. Even so, how can we truly know if animals are not feeling any pain? Just because animals can’t speak, is it justifiable, or fair, for them to be subjected to such treatments? And it’s not just pain.
In order to study medical effects, animals are imprisoned, subjected to various treatments and observed over periods of time. As a result, their health suffers, such as loss of eyesight, organ failure and many more dangerous consequences on animal health. On the other hand, scientists will argue that live animals are the most reliable subjects for medical experiments, because of their similarity to human DNA and physiology, such as rats and monkeys. In many countries, for example the US and the UK, all prescription drugs must be ested on animals before they are allowed onto the market. Some say that to ban animal experiments would be to paralyse modern medicine and to endanger human health by allowing drugs onto the market before testing them for toxicity. Is animal suffering then, inevitable to achieve benefit for mankind? In fact, few breakthroughs have been made as a result of animal experimentation. There have been many errors and failures in animal testing. For example, in most cases, animal tests cannot predict what will happen when a new medicine is given to people.
A review of 45 drugs by Britain’s Committee on Safety of Medicines found that animal experiments were most likely to predict vomiting and gastrointestinal disturbances. Overall, however, the survey found that, at best, just 25% of the harmful effects observed in animals actually occurred in people. Hence, the tests not only give a false sense of security, there is also a risk that worthwhile therapies may be lost or delayed through toxic effects that do not occur in humans. Furthermore, there are alternatives.
Two major alternatives to in vivo animal testing are in vitro cell culture techniques and in silico computer simulation. In fact, there are several organisations that promote alternatives, such as the John Hopkins Centre for Alternatives to Animal Testing. The centre works actively with scientists in industry, government, and academia to find new ways to replace animals with non-animal methods. How about the ethics of performing experiments on animals? It is subjective whether animals have moral rights, as the way we do, that makes it immoral for humans to treat them in whichever way they want.
Bernard Rollin, among others, argues that benefits to human beings cannot outweigh animal suffering, and that human beings have no moral right to use an animal in ways that do not benefit that individual. Tom Regan proposed a philosophical position that animals have animal rights, and argues that animals are beings with beliefs and desires, and as such are the “subjects of a life” with moral value and therefore moral rights. These moral values are not universal and are indeed debatable. I acknowledge that you may not agree with them.
Whichever the case, I believe that the act of using animals for medical research is an act of cruelty against our morals and ethics. And I ask you to think about our basic human principles. How would you feel if you were the one being tested upon? While animal testing has deniably aided in some medical progress, my stand remains that it is unjustifiable and alternative testing methods should be, and can be, established and further promoted. As such, I urge all of you here to champion with me, against animal testing, to seek a more humane future for ourselves and animals. Thank you very much.