Should Animal Testing Be Banned? Experts Pick Sides
Imagine your pet dog or cat sitting terrified in a small, nondescript cage inside a clinically cold laboratory, just waiting to be poked, prodded and experimented on – all in the name of advancing human health…or at least making better beauty products. Now, take a look around your home, from your cleaning supplies to the contents of your medicine cabinet. Odds are you’ll find countless products, perhaps even some which are keeping you alive, made by organizations that still perform testing on animals. They reportedly include the likes of:
The dozens of organizations using animals – ranging from monkeys to actual guinea pigs – as the basis for experimentation serve as a reminder that most of us indirectly support the practice, not only at the grocery store, but also in the voting booth. Granted it’s for a nobler purpose than cosmetic vanity, but the National Institutes of Health allocate more than $12 billion of our tax dollars to animal experimentation each year. So while any and all animal testing is unquestionably immoral in the minds of animal-rights activists, the issue isn’t so obvious to human-health officials, government regulators, much of the corporate crowd or many consumers. There is something to be said for the numerous medical breakthroughs that animal testing has helped foster, from antibiotics and antidepressants to insulin and HIV drugs, after all. So where do we draw the line?
With arguments to be made on all sides of the issue, we invited a panel of leading experts with diverse viewpoints to share their thoughts. We asked them one simple question – should testing on animals be banned? – and received 25 Yes votes, 2 Nos and 2 Maybes. You can check out the experts bios and comments below. And if you have an opinion on the topic of animal testing, make sure to share it in the Comments section.
Animal Testing SHOULD Be Banned
- “Animal experiments are typically justified by referencing that the benefits to humans outweigh whatever harm the animals are subjected to. However, as the outcomes have been scrutinized, findings have shown that the results are highly variable, often irreproducible and have little human relevance. ... Public awareness of animal testing and its limitations has led to bans on animal testing of cosmetics in several countries around the world, which have provided key momentum for the development of human-relevant alternatives that don’t involve animals.”
- Pascaline Clerc // The Humane Society of the United States
- “The fields of comparative psychology and cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds) have established that animals have sentience and so can experience pain, anxiety and other forms of distress. Further, we now have scientific demonstrations of various sophisticated intellectual capabilities and complex social organization in nonhuman animals: self-awareness, tool construction and use, cooperation, and deceit.
Building on these findings, the emerging field of animal-related political theory is extending the important capability of agency to nonhuman animals. That nonhuman animals are not reduced to passive respondents, but can form plans and take action in the full sense of that term enhances their moral standing and the burden of our responsibility toward them.”
- Kenneth Shapiro and Martin Stephens // The Animals and Society Institute & John Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing
- “Many cures have been developed for illnesses induced in laboratory animals. The problem is that few have successfully translated to human beings. Our limited public health resources would be more responsibly spent elsewhere.”
- Andrew Knight // University of Winchester
Animal Testing Should NOT Be Banned
- “Animal testing in which there is consent, or in which the procedure is beneficial to the patient, is morally acceptable and should not be banned. You might wonder how an animal who doesn’t speak can consent to research. While we might not be able to guarantee informed consent, we can give the animal the opportunity to choose whether to participate in a study. For example, at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., orangutans live in one building, and are participants in cognitive and behavioral testing in another building. The orangutans can freely travel between the buildings by climbing on cables connecting the two areas. Orangutan research subjects can choose to go into the testing chamber, solve a few problems, and they can leave whenever they want.”
- Kristin Andrews // York University
- “Scientific consensus on the use of animals in research is overwhelming: Over 92% of scientists agree that ‘animal research is essential to the advancement of biomedical research.’ In other words, halting the work would bring advances in many critical areas to a screeching halt and take away from the hope of new cures and therapies from our patients.”
- Dario Ringach // University of California at Los Angeles
Image: ThomasVogel / iStock.
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