It’s Time for a More Responsible Approach to Animal Research, Testing, and Experimentation
The debate about using animals for medical testing has been raging for years. The struggle always seems to be between extremist animal rights activists who believe that animals should never be used for research, and scientists who believe that any use of animals is acceptable. There are a growing number who argue that there must be a reasonable middle ground. I contend that there must be a significant decrease in the number of animals used by humans to further human goals. I will give a historical account of animal use, provide some statistics about animal use, present some arguments against the use of animals and present Singer's view as well as my own. To conclude I will present a new idea that has become important to the animal protection movement, paving the way for more moderate discussion concerning animal welfare.
Animals were used for the study of the life sciences in ancient Greece. To learn about body functions scientists would cut into a live animal to observe the processes that were occurring. Animals have been used for centuries to help researchers understand the various organs of the body and their functions as well as to hone their surgical skills (jhsph). In the 19th century there was a rise in biomedical research and a subsequent rise in the number of animals used in experiments. Then came the birth of the animal rights movement in a large scale. Bentham's question of whether or not animals can suffer became the rallying cry of the animal protection movement at the time. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Great Britain and in the United States was created in the 19th century as well as the passage of the first anti-cruelty laws in Britain. Animal use skyrocketed again after WWII with developments in the chemical industry, increased government regulati
Millions of animals are used each year for medical research, product testing, and education in the United States. These animals include in decreasing order of frequency: mice, rats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, "farm animals" such as pigs and sheep, dogs, primates and cats. The most common of these, rats and mice, are not protected under the AWA and no accurate figures are kept on the exact number of these animals that are used regardless of the fact that they make up 85-90% of all animals used (hsus).
The most common arguments against animal use question the morality, necessity, and scientific validity of these studies, that is, whether we have the right to perform such tests, whether we need such tests, and whether these tests provide us with any useful information. The moral aspects of the animal use debate involve the view of animals as sentient beings. It is argued that we have a responsibility toward animals and a moral obligation to not cause them pain or distress (jhsph). Singer argues that...