Using Animals for the Research

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The use of animals in research has become a hot topic these days having people debating whether it is ethical or not. However, the use of animals for research is nothing new. Physicians in ancient Greece dissected animals for anatomical studies, as using humans was considered taboo. As advancements in medical science took place the number of animals used for experimentation also increased particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. So with an increasing number of animals being used the opposition towards it grew as well. Organizations such as CAAT, ECEAE, and PETA have been formed to protect the rights of animals. On the contrary organizations such as Pro-Test, Foundation for Biomedical Research and Research Defense Society have been formed to support animal testing. In this essay, we will look at both perspectives of the two groups.

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First, we’ll look at the perspective that supports the use of animals for research. An Article Published by The Guardian “Animal research can be justified – but ‘cuteness’ is irrelevant” written by Obaro Evuarherhe. The credibility of the source can be judged by the fact that it is published by a very reputable British newspaper. The writer is a very learned person having studied at the University of Bristol and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

The writer starts by giving an example of how he lost a debate to an animal rights activist despite being experienced in the field. He lost the debate once it passed the facts. He further goes on to say that despite the genuine care that animal researchers have for the animals they inevitably reach a point at which they have to choose between one creature over the other, the other creature is us, humans. I think the way the writer begins his article is quite engaging, he can catch the reader’s attention through his direct approach. His admitting that he lost the debate shows that he is very acceptable to the outcome of the debate and isn’t afraid of admitting defeat, which I believe helps him establish trust between the reader and himself.

Asking any hypothetical question such as “Whether the life of a little girl or a mouse is more important” is incredibly arrogant. He goes on the quote Gandhi to establish his view that some of the greatest thinkers in history believed in the sanctity of all conscious creatures. I think the writer quoting Gandhi strengthens his argument as he is quoting someone who is very well known and has a good reputation.

The philosophical debate regarding the sacredness of living creatures is not meant to be taken lightly. He gives an example of how most people choose the deliciousness of a lamb over its cuteness following it with a sarcastic remark. The writer further goes on to criticize an article published by daily mail regarding the use of kittens and labels it as ‘ignorant and irresponsible’. I believe the writer is being somewhat childish and irresponsible to openly call out a famous newspaper. The writer could have had a more subtle approach instead he chooses an aggressive one. Openly criticizing someone doesn’t leave a very lasting impression on the reader.

The writer further downgrades the article from daily mail by pointing out that the pictures taken are from Wisconsin. The way they provide honest details of the experiments may be constructive but is irrelevant to the argument of the writer. In many Russell group universities, the research hasn’t been carried out in years and a spokesperson from Cambridge University says that it was carried out on a small number of cats to find a new treatment for amblyopia. Other than that he disregards the daily mail article by stating that the universities carrying out the research would require Home Office approval. Blatantly criticizing the article is something which I personally believe is the wrong approach taken in this paragraph however the writer can put up a good debate against the other article. He gives examples of Russell Group universities which instantly established the credibility of his research.

Being sarcastic the writer states how all he wrote is irrelevant and all that matters is that the experiment is on kittens, which are an embodiment of cuteness. Again I believe the use of sarcasm in the article may not play well with some of the readers and it kind of makes his argument weaker and makes it seem more childish.

The benefits of animals in research are significant, from heart transplants to blood transfusions, etc. A lot of us have benefited from the use of animals in some form. I think the writer can present a fair view that animal research has benefitted us, I don’t think many people would argue with it. The main argument I believe lies in whether it’s ethical for us to use them. The writer does well to give a very balanced conclusion in the following paragraph. The writer states three points. Firstly, replace the animals wherever the alternatives are present. Secondly, reduce the number of animals. Finally, refine the experiments to minimize the pain.

The writer states a reality that we should confront the use of animals with open-mindedness and objectivity rather than being overrun by emotion. He gives his own point of view so not all people have to agree with it.

Finally, the writer concludes his article by saying that animals put under anesthetic before plates inserted into their skulls are no different from what humans undergo daily. So if we trust experts who dedicate their whole lives studying mammalian biology to provide us with treatments we benefit from then those people who have an easy answer for the aforementioned questions stated at the beginning need to accept the whole weight of the moral dilemma this topic presents. While the other people still pondering over the question, hats off to them seriously. So the writer presents a very strong logical argument at the end by comparing that humans also go through a lot of the procedures and we need to trust the experts when it comes to research on animals.

In another article published by The Telegraph “Should we experiment on animals? Yes”, written by Colin Blakemore who is a British neurobiologist. He is the author of several books and has received awards for his contribution to science. He also is a professor at Oxford University. So looking at his credentials he is a very learned person.

The writer holds a lot of similar views as that of Evuarherhe. He starts his article by asking a question that what do vaccines, anti-biotics and organ transplantation, etc. have all in common, he answers that they were all developed by animal testing. Moreover, he further states that alternatives should be used wherever possible, no one chooses to use animals if they’re not needed.

He states that humans and animals like rats and mice respond similarly to diseases. However, one of the main counterarguments to the use of animals in research is that in many cases the response to certain drugs isn’t similar, this view will be further in the antithesis.

He states facts such as that animal research has contributed to 70 percent of Nobel prizes for physiology or medicine however fails to provide evidence for it. To strengthen his argument he gives an example of the tragic case of Daniel James, who committed suicide after being paralyzed to try to stop research in the UK which used rats. So he further says that those who object to using animals are entitled to refuse treatments. I believe he is being somewhat logical, if you don’t want animals to be researched on then simply just refuse to be treated for diseases where animal research has been conducted. The writer ends his article by stating that many diseases are still incurable, so we still require animals to find cures and test them. Overall, I believe the article is somewhat biased and in instances the writer becomes aggressive. However, he doesn’t fail, his argument is logical and can be reasoned with.

Now looking at the other side of the perspective, that it’s wrong to use animals for research. The main article that will be analyzed is published by the New York times “Saving the animals: new ways to test products” written by Barnaby J. Feder. The publishing newspaper has a very good reputation. The writer has written many articles for the New York times and has been writing for quite a long time, so he is well experienced.

The writer starts by stating that human skin, eyes, etc. are routinely grown in test tubes from donated human cells to replace the animals in drug testing. The writer further goes on to highlight other alternative methods to animal testing for example use of simulation software. The development of these alternatives shows what happens when pressure for change faces off against a scientific challenge. The writer goes on to quote Alan M. Goldberg a toxicology professor stating that it has been disappointing that the development has been rather slow. The writer quoting a knowledgeable person which establishes the credibility of the article.

According to estimates, millions of animals get killed for research each year. This could be an ordeal for companies as they have to give lots of explanations to animal rights activists. The article fails to establish where the estimates are coming from, so it makes the reader feel unsure whether to trust the writer or not.

The biggest forces which have led companies to shift away from animal testing are the reliability and the high costs. Industry executives say that around 25 percent of drugs fail to show side effects on animals which later had to be discontinued. Hence companies use multiple animals and species to test products. Questions regarding the benefits and costs of the use of animals have been rising. The article again fails to back up its statement using evidence.

There has been a 50 percent decrease in the number of lab animals sacrificed since the 1970s among the species tracked by the department of agriculture, in 2005 that total was 1.18 million. However, it’s difficult to track the total number and government statistics exclude many creatures further the writer quotes Martin Stephens, the vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society of the US, who agrees that the numbers are up or down. So, the article does well to quote Mr. Martin and provides statistics from the Department of Agriculture.

Since it takes years of testing to prove to the testers that the alternative is better than animal testing. David B. Warheit a researcher at DuPont shared his experience of testing new nanoscale materials. He found different results when testing on human cells and rats. Hence it led him to conclude that live rat testing produced more accurate results. I like that the article establishes a different point of view without the writer being sarcastic or unprofessional towards Mr. David’s opinion unlike Mr. Evuarherhe in the thesis.

However, in-vitro tests on human cells have been gaining ground. The writer goes on the give names of other start-up companies using human cells. In Vitro laboratories, the use of human cells for testing is more cost-effective and saves time. Charles River laboratories has a subsidiary called Endosafe which has alternatives to testing of solutions on the eyes of rabbits, the test is cheaper and has found its way to be used at dialysis centers. Other companies like Entelos use computer simulations to test drugs. The writer does well to give two examples of companies that are using alternative testing to strengthen his argument.

However, many giant companies are using alternatives to boost their image. Companies like Procter, Gamble, and L’Oréal have spent millions on the development of alternatives over the last two decades. European regulators have set 2009 as a deadline for animal testing on cosmetics. Regulators have been putting extra pressure on industries to develop alternatives which is why they have a ten-year lead in using alternatives in the US, where the government hasn’t used such drastic measures. In conclusion, it can be said that the use of animals for testing could be reduced and possibly be eliminated.

In another article published by The Independent “How reliable is animal testing?; Podium” written by C Ray Greek who is a board-certified anesthesiologist in the US. The Independent is also a very well-established newspaper.

Medicines like antibiotics, vaccines, etc. have had a huge positive impact on our lives. However, before being sold they are tested on animals. Human trials are then performed to verify the results. In some cases, humans who are very sick are directly given untried medications if they are willing to volunteer. The article however fails to provide evidence of where and how much human trials are conducted as I myself am unaware of something of that sort happening. The article should have given examples in this case.

In the example of a medication called Thalidomide, the article states that it caused harm to humans despite detailed animal testing. This leads the writer to conclude that animal testing is not predictive and is of little value since not all species produce the same results. I feel it’s very immature of the writer to conclude through just one example that animal testing is unreliable. He didn’t mention hundreds of other drugs which have shown positive results through animal testing.

Before I started writing this essay, I agreed with the idea of animal testing since I thought that it was essential for drugs to be tested on animals, I was completely unaware of the alternative methods of testing. So, in the thesis, the main arguments were that we should not let our emotions control us when looking at animal testing and the lack of alternate tests available. However, in the anti-thesis, many examples of alternatives were given and the reliability of animal testing was under question. I personally side with Mr. Evuarherhe that we should use alternatives where they are available and are perfect substitutes. We have to decide whether to save animals or humans and need to use a minimal amount of emotion.               

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