The debate about using animals for medical testing has been ongoing for years. The struggle is usually between extreme animal rights activists and scientists. The animal rights activists believe animals should never be used for research, and the scientists believe any use of animals is acceptable. Listed below are factual historical accounts of animal use, statistics, and arguments against the use of animals.
In ancient Greece animals were used for the study of life science. To learn about body functions scientists would cut into a live animal to observe vital parts in action. “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 nineteenth century a rise in biomedical research subsequently increased the number of animals used in experiments. In the 1970’s the animal rights movement erupted on a grand scale. Bentham's question of whether or not animals 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 nineteenth century. Animal use skyrocketed again after World War II with developments in the chemical industry and increased government regulation.
Millions of animals are used each year for medical research, product testing and education in the United States. The animals listed below range from the highest to lowest used animals for scientific experiments; 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 Animal Welfare Association. No accurate figures are kept on the exact number of rats and mice used regardless of the fact they make up eighty-five to ninety percent of all animals used (hsus).
The most common arguments against animal use testing question the morality, necessity and scientific validity of these studies. In other words, do we have the right to perform such tests, need such tests, and whether these tests provide us with any useful information?
The moral aspects of the animal use testing argument involve the view of animals as sentient beings. It is argued, we have a responsibility toward animals and a moral obligation to not cause them pain or distress (jhsph). Singer argues "...experimenters often seek to justify experimenting on animals by claiming the experiments lead us to discoveries about humans; if this is so, the experimenter must agree human and non-human animals are similar in crucial respects (p. 65)." Singer challenges his opponents to the hypothetical question "would [they] be prepared to perform their experiments on orphaned humans with severe and irreversible brain damage if this were the only way to save thousands? (p. 67)" Singer
Another argument is necessity, which is closely linked to...