What lies beneath our rights as human beings? One may argue that it’s the fact that we can feel emotion- empathy, despair, frustration, and jubilance. Or, another may claim that is it the common interest that we all share in the freedom of one’s own life and choices, happiness, and the continuous battle to achieve peace in the world. When we define these rights and give them some thought, a question comes to mind- can these rights be extended to non-human beings with the same capabilities of emotion and pursuit of happiness?
Animals for instance have been a subject of discussion when it comes to rights due to bvious differences in character and species. But when we glance at what lies beneath our rights as human beings and compare them to animals, we may find that we’re not much different. In time, animals have been stripped of their rights and used to benefit human life through the process of animal experimentation or, animal testing. Around 20 million animals are subjected to this type of research annually in the United States alone (Gershoff 98).
This specific process of research involves the use of chemicals to test certain biological treatments on a variety of different animals. Results based on uch research lets scientists know whether the chemical product that is applied to the subject is safe for human beings or harmful. This study is approached while animals are observed in their natural habitat. Universities, medical schools, and pharmaceutical companies hold these sorts of experiments as well enterprises, companies, and firms.
Multiple points are to be considered when discussing the topic of animal experimentation, and though animals provide a major recourse in aiding human health, an issue of rights and ethics are also to be presented. It’s no question that animal testing provides a main ontribution to multiple life-saving cures and treatments that we still use today. Stanley N Gershoff in his work entitled DAnimal Experimentation- a Personal View” that “almost every recent medial breakthrough in the 20th century has been because of research using animals” (96).
This means that without the sacrifice of animals, every life that has been rescued by recent medical breakthroughs would not be alive today. Animal research has contributed to the understanding and treatments of multiple health conditions such as cancer, brain injuries, and many others (“Should Animals Be Used? “). This means that an xcessive number of patients could still be suffering from certain diseases if it weren’t for the medical advances that were found due to animal experimentation.
The director of the University of Texas states that “of it weren’t for chimps and other animals, we wouldn’t have treatments for hepatitis B,” and claims that the use of chimpanzees is the best solution for finding future vaccines for health concerns like Hepatitis C, which is a disease that kills 15,000 American people every year” (“Should Animals Be Used? “). This is just one disease. What if we added the rest of the diseases and ailments that ontinually plague our population?
The human population would slowly diminish one person at a time without the use of animal research to find the cures and treatments to aid our loved ones. Knowing how animal research has aided the human population, imagine a world without the advances that animal experimentation has given us. Could you imagine living in a world where nearly half of our medical treatments were undiscovered? Katrin Weigmann states that, “it is important to explain that animal research is done for a reason and that without animal experimentation, medical progress would halt or low down” (“Talking About Animal Research” par. 2).
It is that very idea that makes one realize how much animal research has aided human health over the years. Rachel Hajar adds to this idea in an article entitled “Animal Testing and Medicine” and states that, “elimination of animal testing will significantly set back the development of essential medical devices, medicines, and treatment. ” These studies show that not only are we saving the lives of our own species, but we are also improving our own health with animal research. One of the main issues that animal testing presents is the inhumane treatment of its test subjects.
According to Humane Society International, “the animals which are used in experiments are usually to force fed, subjected to forced inhalation, deprived of proper nutrients, are subjected to prolonged physical restraint, and inflicted with physical injuries such as burns and other wounds to study the healing process as well as the effects and cures for certain treatments” (“Should Animals Be Used? “). When comparing the horror that animals are put through during experimentation to how slaves were treated in the past, they’re quite comparable.
Slaves were shoved into crates, went days without proper nourishment, and nflicted with burns and cuts daily. One can easily claim that animal experimentation is just an imitation of the pain and suffering that our ancestors endured. Experiments at several universities have been conducted to test emotional elements such as stress on numerous animals such as rats and mice. These experiments restrained animals from certain mobilization as researchers shocked the animal’s feet while hanging from their tails, and forced them to swim in order to avoid drowning.
Researchers claim that these sorts of experiments contribute to the study of certain mental heath disorders such as anxiety and depression in humans. Physical restraint is already traumatizing and stressful for animals, but to make matters worse some animals are held for months and even years in partial or complete mobile restriction (“Harm and Suffering”). We all know that animals are capable of emotion and feeling, just as human beings are. What if we replaced the experimentation of an animal with a human being? Imagine being tested for new drugs to cure diseases, being poisoned for toxicity, burned, maimed, and blinded.
Wouldn’t that be considered inhumane, cruel, and downright horrid? What’s the difference? If experimenting on humans is unacceptable, houldn’t experimenting on a different living organism with the same capability of feeling be considered unacceptable as well? A common solution to animal experimentation that is suggested is the use of alternatives such as growing tissue in laboratories to test chemicals and other cures on. The problem with that idea is that in some cases, there is no sufficient alternative to doing research on a living body.
Studies show that “living systems like human beings and animals are extremely complex. Studying cell cultures in a petri dish, while sometimes useful, does not provide the opportunity to study interrelated rocesses occurring in the central nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system” (“Should Animals Be Used? “). Sampling cures and specific illnesses can only go so far when using petri dishes. It is safe to assume that the effects on cell cultures could be completely different then when tested on whole-body systems.
There are also specific medical treatments that cannot be tested on alternatives such as cell cultures. For example, in order to find treatment for certain side effects for a disease, a circulatory system is required for medicine to be carried to specific organs. In addition, blindness and high blood ressure are conditions that are actually unable to be researched in investigations such as tissue cultures (“Should Animals Be Used? “). Contrary to these scientific facts, modern technology has recently found a loophole- and it’s called Vitro Testing.
During this process, researchers use micro-engineered devices that are lined by specific cells of certain parts of the human body (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”). The main idea of these devices is that it then recreates organ level functions, so animal testing is no longer needed. What researchers have found is that many pharmaceutical companies are having high failure rates due to he animal models which are commonly used to advance certain drugs instead of basing the tests on common human situations (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”).
Researchers add to this by stating that this method is time consuming as well as costly (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”). Vitro Testing eliminates these negative factors and substitutes them with a technology that is simple and straightforward. For example, the Human Breathing Lung-on-a-Chip creates replicates and acts as an actual human, breathing lung. It’s made up of human airway cells on an air-sack which lies on a porous membrane. On one side of the membrane, there are human capillary cells, and on the other side there are human lung cells.
This forms a blood and air channel for the lung and then acts as a typical lung would (“Alternatives to Animal Testing”). Using this technology, they are able to test various types of drugs and toxins that a normal human would come to contact with on a normal everyday basis. Using this technology would aid the research in aiding human health while also sparing the lives of innocent animals.
When it comes to the discussion of animal testing, their rights become a major factor in the matter. William A. Edmundson in an article discovering animal rights entitled “Do Animals Need Rights? , claims that there are certain functions that rights have for humans that cannot be performed for animals” (199). For example, humans are a more educated species whom have the mental capacity to invent, discover, and innovate. With being a human comes making choices that follow by actions and consequences, positive or negative. This is where our rights come in, they make up what is deemed “okay” or “not okay” in our society, though the lines still get blurred.
When speaking in terms for animals, they can do no wrong because they do not ave the same capabilities as humans to make quote-on-quote “wrongful decisions. Therefore, the function of their rights are not going to be the same as human rights- which does not mean that they are not entitled a sense of love and happiness just as humans. Some animal rights activists will argue that “animals are subjected to experimentation without a valid reason, and that it is mainly done to fulfill the curiosity of the investigator” (Gershoff 98). Reflecting on the points that have been mentioned thus far, one can acknowledge the reasons why that statement may be false.
Animals do provide a living, whole body that can be used for experimentation, which in some cases is the only sufficient way to test conditions like blindness and high blood pressure. Multiple cures and treatments have been discovered using animal experimentation as well, saving countless human lives. Gershoff claims in his work that “animal research is very costly and time consuming, therefore an investigation needs to have merit for an institution to grant their support” (98). This means that in order for an investigator to test on animals purely out of sport, one must have the financial means to do so.
One may agree with animal rights activists when reflecting upon the counterarguments of previously mentioned points. New technologies have been invented with the advanced capability to recreate functions of human organs that can be tested on instead of animal life such as the Human Breathing Lung-On-A-Chip. Animal rights activists also highly enunciate the inhumane treatment that animals undergo while in experimentation such as prolonged periods of physical restraint, malnutrition, and the infliction of physical injuries.
Gershoff states that “because of the massive amount of employees that each institution has, it would not be a abnormal if there happened to be some cases of animal abuse. In many institutions, caretakers of animals are paid at a minimum wage basis and are not given proper instructions on how to care for the biological subjects” (98). As ugly as it is it, animal testing has sling-shotted modern medicine forward. People want and need the knowledge and advancement in medicine from animal testing. Monkeys and chimpanzees share humans genetic composition.
Therefore, the results elicited would be similar to the results in a human. This leads to curing diseases, reduce co-morbidities, prolonging and improving the lives of countless people. Banning it all together would potentially paralyze modern medicine and effect many future generations to come. With that being said, the decision to do animal testing needs to be done with careful consideration. There are undeniable benefits to animal testing, but it begs to question, what about the animals? Where is their voice in all of this?
Just because humans consider animals a lesser creature does not mean that one should carelessly and heartlessly kill animals for something as simple as make up and the next best anti-ager. Furthermore, it mustn’t be forgotten that rats do not have the same genetic make up as humans. So this compromises the essence of many of the experiments since the reaction in the rats would not elicit the same exact response in a human. Not to mention the conditions of the study are already questionable since the animal is not “acting” normal because it isn’t in it’s normal environment, thus, potentially altering the end result as well.
Who’s life is more valuable a human’s or a animal’s? Animal testing is a long time moral dilemma and will continue to be so. Perhaps stricter guidelines on the use of animal testing would be in order. Making animal testing a last option instead of a first choice where all other methods must be deemed inapplicable prior to utilizing it. Furthermore, it must be a priority for the animals to be treated kindly while having to go through minimal pain and suffering. A world with animal testing may not be ideal but a world without might be deadly.