Professor Sophie Sills
December 16, 2011
Should Animals be used for Research
During the past ten years, a major controversy over the use of animals in biomedical and behavioral research has arisen. The debate about using animals for medical testing has been ongoing for years. The struggle is usually between animal rights activists and scientist. I believe that animal testing is imperative to the progression of medical cures, procedures and drugs. Scientists have been solving medical problems, developing new techniques and treatments, and curing diseases by using animals in biomedical research.
Animal rights advocates believe that animals should not be exploited by humans, and that animals have the same rights as humans. Anti-vivisectionists oppose the use of animals in medical research. They believe that medical researchers are cruel and inhumane. Animal Welfare does not oppose all use of animals in research. They oppose inhumane and unnecessary use of animals and fight to eliminate pain and suffering of animals. On the Contrary, scientists argue that animal research is necessary because it helps them develop medications, vaccines, or new procedures to treat or prevent diseases for both humans and animals. Most research projects either do not involve pain or the pain is alleviated with analgesic or anesthetic drugs. They understand that pain causes stress for the animals, and this stress can seriously affect the results of the study.
With all these controversies about this issue, why are animals necessary in research? Because animals make good research subjects. Animals are biologically similar to humans. In fact, chimpanzees share more than 99% of DNA with humans and mice share more than 98% DNA with humans, therefore, animals are susceptible to many of the same health problems as humans. Animals have a shorter life cycle than humans and as a result, they can be studied throughout their whole life span or across several generations. In addition, scientists can easily control the environment around animals; their diet, temperature, lighting, which would be difficult to do with humans. According to USDA, ninety five percent of all animals used in research are rats, mice and other rodents. Cats, dogs and other animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, primates and farm animals collectively make up the small remaining percentage of animals. 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. 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. In the nineteenth century a rise in biomedical research increased the number of animals used in experiments. In the 1970’s the animal rights movement erupted on a grand scale. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the largest animal rights group in the country, takes a more radical approach to animal research. According to Carol L. Burnett, a PETA spokesperson, “Our basic philosophy is that animals are not ours to eat, wear or experiment on. We focus on issues that cause the most suffering and can help the most animals. The question then lies is do animals in research suffer? According to “Americans for Medical Progress,” during every step of the research process, animal pain and distress is assessed and monitored to provide the highest level of animal care while protecting the validity of research data. Animal Welfare Act requires that appropriate veterinary care, housing, handling, sanitation and ventilation are provided to animals involved in research.
To further the protection of animals in research, governing bodies such as Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees work together with researchers to ensure protocols are followed, anesthesia and postoperative painkillers are used when appropriate, and...
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