Animal Testing Is Morally Wrong and Should Be Banned by the Government
Everyone at some point has come across a television commercial, an online article, or a video about animal testing. There might be a picture of a rabbit with its fur all mangled. Or maybe it’s a picture of a white lab rat in a cage. Whatever the picture, it’s not a pleasant one. Every year, over one hundred million animals are tested on worldwide. This is a troubling statistic that needs to be addressed. Companies and private agencies continue to use animal testing as a main way to test their new products and drugs despite the overwhelming alternatives.
This topic has been put off long enough, and it is still a very big issue that needs to be addressed. All animal testing needs to be made illegal at the federal level, and all animal testing facilities be closed immediately because it is morally wrong, the tests are ineffective, there are too many negative results, it is not worth the costs, and there are better alternatives.
Animal testing has been around longer than one may think. The first known animal tests were run by the renounced scientist and thinker Aristotle in 384 BC (Hajar). He tried to research how the different nerves and tissues worked in animals and apply it to humans. Throughout the years, many different people have tested on animals to satisfy their curiosity and gain scientific knowledge. In more recent history, animal testing became law in 1938 after a pharmaceutical company sold a drug containing diethylene glycol-which is poisonous to humans (Murnagham). This drug killed over a hundred people and there was public outcry for better safety testing.
The Food and Drug Administration passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which made companies test their products on animals for safety concerns before putting them on the market. Since then there have been regulations that have been in place to protect the people from such drugs. Safety is always a priority, but this law is over 75 years old. There are new technological advances that can better represent what a drug will do than testing on an animal will. This is why the situation needs to be addressed: there is sufficient alternatives to testing on animals, and these animals don’t need to bare anymore pain.
First off, animal testing should be illegal based on the simple fact that it is morally wrong. In fact, in a recent survey over 50% of people aged 18-34 said they believe animal testing is morally wrong (Erbe). Young people are starting to see animal testing as what it is-harming innocent animals. Take this example: an ordinary person puts chemicals on their dog’s skin to see what happens. There is no debate that this is wrong. It would be animal abuse, not a question. Yet scientists can do the exact same thing and get away with it. Why? Does saying that “it is in the name of science”, or “its helping humans” really give them a free pass to test on animals? Think about animal testing at its most basic level. Someone is testing a new chemical, product, or drug on a living animal. They test them on animals because they don’t know what is going to happen. Often times the animals involved in the tests end up dead.
These animals aren’t all just white lab mice, animals used in testing can be dogs, cats, bunnies, rats, mice, fish, birds, and even monkeys—all of which can feel pain. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is perhaps one of the most well-known organizations that are against animal testing. Their stances on animal testing are “subtly and slowly, bus surely and assuredly, changing the American consciousness” arguingthat animal testing is morally wrong (PETA: Outrageous, perhaps, but also ethical). Testing on these animals isn’t just cruel, it is morally wrong as well. The well- known leader Mahatma Gandhi states”the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
These animals endure excruciating pain and can often end up dead. One example of an animal experiencing terrible pain are Beagles—yes, the dogs.Beagles are the dog bread most often used in animal testing. Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend” but these dogs can’t say the same thing. In one study, dogs were used to study heart attacks and heart disorders. For the study, dogs were forced to run on a treadmill until their heart gave out. The dogs were killed, and then their hearts were taken out to study the damage.
In another just as gruesome experiment, Beagle puppies were bread to have a “degenerative eye disease that culminates in blindness”. When the puppies reached three weeks old, the beagles “had their eyes cut out and were killed”. One final example—this one may be the worst of all. Beagles are kept in 6ft by 6ft pens, their home for almost a year. They are fed every morning and night, but in their food there is something extra. It could be “an argi-chemical, a drug or a food additive” that is mixed with the food.
The Beagles are monitored for any adverse reactions to what they are ingesting. Every week they are weighed and have urine and feces analyzed. Every month they take a blood sample. Once the trial is over, so are the Beagles lives. The dogs “will be killed with barbiturates” (Menache). And then soon enough, that 6ft by 6ft pen will be the home to another dog and the cycle will start over again.
Secondly, animal tests are not effective. Animal testing experts Pycroft and Marstoncorrectly describe that “humans differ from other animals anatomically, genetically and metabolically, meaning data derived from animals cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy.” This statement could not be more true.
It is impossible for any test that is run on an animal to be one hundred percent certain that it will work for humans as well.Moreover, “upwards of 100,000 [people] in the U.S” are killed from adverse drug reactions year, and many of these drugs have been put through animal testing (Archibald and Coleman). This is a startling fact which should be taken seriously. Over one hundred thousand people die from drugs that have passed animal tests. This is inexcusable and these deaths all could have been prevented with more in-depth research and testing the drug in alternative ways.
Archibald and Coleman continue to say that “92 percent of new drugs fail clinical trials, even though they have successfully passed animal tests.” It cannot be more clear that animal testing is a poor way to test out new products and drugs. With only 8% of animal tests for drugs going on to become actual drugs, the other 92% is just a waste. It doesn’t get anything accomplished except harming animals because humans can’t get it right. Other experts conclude the same thing: these animal tests are not effective. “In many cases [animal testing] doesn’t work” (Mercury). He goes on to say that “We can cure strokes in rodents, but not in humans” and that “thirty different AIDS vaccines have been found to work in monkeys and apes, but not humans”. This is outrageous that we can find out ways to cure animals, yet we cannot get these drugs and vaccines to work for humans.
All this evidence points to the simple conclusion that animal tests are not effective. There is no reason to keep harming these animals in the name of research when the only thing they are finding out is how not to make a good drug. There is no valid reason to keep testing animals when less than 10% of the drugs that pass even work on humans. Having over 90% of drugs fail after animal tests is ridiculous, in any other industry if something fails 9 times out of 10 they would find an alternative to what they are doing, yet companies and government continue to test on animals.
Another negative about animal testing is there are too many harmful results caused by animal testing. One of the most infamous animal experiments is the “thalidomide disaster whereby tens of thousands of children were born with severe deformities not predicted in animal tests” (Pycroft and Marston). This happened in the 1960’s because of trusting animal testing and not having sufficient evidence. Thalidomide was marketed as a tranquilizerpill but it was prevalent among pregnant women because there was a claim that it could alleviate morning sickness.
Many pregnant women took this pill without a second thought. Side effects of this pill caused many babies to be born with no arms or legs, or severe shortening of limbs. This is all the result of inaccurate animal tests which were thought to be safe. A more recent example of a drug that has passed animal testing and failed is the TGN 1412 drug in 2006. This drug was supposed to strengthen the immune system, and it drug had been tested on monkeys and there had not been any negative effects. When it was tested on humans it was a completely different story. Within minutes of taking this new drug “the volunteers were racked by chills, pain and nausea” (Rosenthal).
These volunteers were all rushed to the hospital and “all six human subjects almost died” (Rosenthal). This happened less than 10 years ago. As mentioned earlier over 100,000 people die every year in the United States from adverse drug reactions that have passed animal tests. These cases of animal tests that turn out wrong are too prevalent and the inaccuracies in the tests cause damage to human lives. These animal tests are doing the opposite of what they are supposed to do. They are harming humans, not helping them.
Along those same lines, animal testing isn’t worth the costs. There are many costs associated with animal testing, including the animals themselves, holding the animals, providing them food, acquiring the new drugs to test on them, and more. It is estimated that the United States spends around sixteen billion dollars of taxpayer’s money on animal tests every year.
Furthermore, much of this money is mismanaged and wasted by the National Institutes of Health. Recall earlier that less than 10% of animal tests go on to pass human trials and become drugs. Based off this and the sixteen billion dollars, this means that over fourteen billion dollars is wasted on animal tests that end up not working for humans. Think about what 14 billion dollars annually could do instead of being squandered on animal tests. This tax-payer money needs to fund something more worthwhile than testing on animals.
Animal testing costs don’t stop at just monetary concerns; it also includes the cost of the animals lives. We live in a society where it is acceptable to kill animals in the name of science. Some animals like “rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats” are killed regularly in “painful cosmetic tests” (Washington: Federal Bill).Painful cosmetics tests can be anything from trying a new lotion on the skin of an animal to testing new chemicals that can burn the skin and permanently damage the animals. This comes up even though the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require animal tests to prove the safety of products.
These cosmetic companies don’t need to test on animals for any reason yet they continue to kill these animals. Animal tests extend past just the cosmetics industry too. There are new fertilizers and pesticides that require animals to see if it is safe. It is estimated that “testing for a new pesticide can involve the use of approximately 10,000 dogs, rodents, rabbits, fish, birds and other animals” (Zeller). This is flat out unacceptable. Using this many animals to test out one new pesticide is absurd. Some of these animals must die during the tests if there are adverse reactions to the pesticide. Yet this is legal and acceptable because it is used to help farther research and create new products.
Next, animal testing is absurd because there are multiple alternatives that are animal-free. With all the advances in technology it is becoming more and more practical to move to tests without animals.Knowledgeable about alternatives to animal testing, Zeller agrees with this stating that “science is now at the place where you can do a pretty good hazard assessment in a completely non-animal way” (Zeller). Archibald and Coleman agree that there are “new tests based on human biology” that “can predict many adverse reactions that animal tests fail to do”.
Some of these new tests use human tissue that is grown from a human cell. This is actually a very simple process to do. Cells are collected from humans and grown into tissue that can be used to test new drugs. This way is more cost efficient, and doesn’t require any animals. These tests are far more effective because one can see how exactly it would interact with a human’s body. These tests should be more widely used. There are also computer tests that can accurately show what would happen given the drug and the person’s body. A scientist would enter a person’s information and then the computer would simulate what would happen.
These tests are helpful for the average person, but for someone with diseases or different immune systems these tests don’t always extrapolate to everyone. These tests need to be considered more as well. Some examples of companies that are trying to head away from animal testing are Procter & Gamble and Clorox, who are “tracking testing methods as a way to promote the development of faster, cheaper and more reliable tests that don’t depend on animals” (Zeller). This is what every company should strive to do. There are many other companies that try to lean towards animal- free tests as well. These companies are big enough to make an impact on the number of animals tested each year by moving to better alternatives.
Moving away from animal testing could soon be law as well. A bill was introduced into Congress in 2014 that would “Make it unlawful for anyone to conduct or commission cosmetic animal testing in the U.S.” (Washington: Federal Bill). This would be a huge step for animal rights and animal testing. The United States are world leaders, so if the United States made a law making it illegal to test on animals it could impact other countries to do the same. Also, the United Kingdom made animal testing illegal for cosmetics products in 2012 which was a huge victory for animal rights. Granted animal testing is a worldwide problem, but if it is illegal in the UK and if the United States makes it illegal as well, it could make a significant impact.
Skeptics of this plan might argue that animal testing is needed because they would rather test on animals than humans. Some claim they would waste an animal life before they want to harm a human life. This is understandable but it is an inaccurate argument because there are many other safe, animal-free alternatives. Plus, all tests and clinical trials have to be approved for testing on humans beforehand so this is an invalid point.
Another point some try to argue is that animal testing has brought breakthroughs in the medical industry. One might quote a stat about cancer rates decreasing because cancer vaccines are found in animals. This could be partially true, but also the overall advances in technology and science makes the cancer rates decrease as well. It can’t be solely the use of animal testing that has helped in medical breakthroughs. A final argument someone might make is that animal testing is a necessary evil that is needed to advance our research. While research is important, there are many other alternatives that are not evil and do not harm humans.
Based off of all this information about animal testing-it being morally wrong, ineffective, there being too many negative results, not worth the costs, and having better alternatives—it should be federal law to make it illegal to test on animals. To make this happen, we need to spread awareness of what is happening to these innocent animals. Also, please visit PETA’s website to see what companies still use animal testing.Please take a step and do not buy these companies products until they stop testing on animals. If their products don’t sell and there is public outcry for change, they will more than likely change their ways because they need the profits. The next time you use a new cosmetic product, try out a new drug, or buy new fertilizer, think about all the animals that have been harmed in the process for you to get it, and ask yourself if it is really worth it.