Animal testing refers to procedures done on living animals to conduct research on diseases and basic biology. Animal testing helps in assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of new medicinal products. It is also widely used for testing the safety of industry and consumer products such as food additives, household cleaners, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics (Judson 26). The procedures are capable of causing the animals’ psychological and physical distress or suffering. At the end of the experiment, most animals are killed while some are used in subsequent experiments. This paper explores the concept of animal testing, its purposes, merits and demerits.
Different species across the world are used for this purpose but the most common are rabbits, mice, fish, rats, birds, dogs, cats, monkeys and guinea pigs. Every year, approximately 120 million animals are used for experiments but since only few countries publish the data related to research and animal testing, a small number is known. In the United States for instance, the official statistics excludes 90% of animals used for testing in various laboratories. This implies that the figures that are published by the department of agriculture are substantially small (Judson 38). Animal testing is a widely used concept in virtually all medical laboratories across the world.
Major benefits of animal testing include helping researchers and scientists to find treatment and drugs to improve human health. Many medical treatments have been discovered through animal testing such as cancer, antibiotics, vaccines and insulin (Hayhurst 106). Other benefits of animal testing include improving the overall human health, ensuring that drugs meet safety standards before they are distributed to the consumers. Scientists carry out animal testing to study human beings because they consider animals similar to human beings. It is considered a good alternative to testing the drugs or medical procedures on patients.
Opponents of animal testing suggest that apart from being unethical, animal testing leads to both psychological and physical pain to a large number of scientific creatures. In addition, it is criticized for being resource and time intensive, failure to predict correctly human reactions, offering little knowledge of the way chemicals behave in the body, artificially developing symptoms into other animal species and limitation on the number of substances that can be tested (Watson 94). Apart from animals being kept in captivity, most are killed after the testing. Further, animal testing is relatively expensive due to huge resources that are needed to complete the procedure. It is also argued that animals and human beings can never be exactly the same.
In conclusion, while many benefits as well as cons of animal testing exist, ethical aspects overshadow both of them. This means that emotions could be the ultimate determining aspect of whether a person believes that the benefits outweigh the problems related to animal testing. Despite being used for decades, many diseases do not have a cure. There is a need for the paradigm shift to technological methods of discovering drugs and treatment in the health system.
Hayhurst, Chris. Animal Testing: The Animal Rights Debate. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2000. Print.
Judson, Karen. Animal Testing. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2006. Print.
Watson, Stephanie. Animal Testing: Issues and Ethics. New York: Rosen Pub, 2009. Print.