Samuel Lozano Fornari / Edge Columnist
Animal experimentation has been developed side by side with medicine, and it has been incredibly helpful for the research of various treatments for diseases. Although several people have questioned its reliability or the monetary costs, the actual problem with this type of experimentation, is the ethical problem they present.
Due to ancient Cartesian philosophy, people in the past did not have a problem with experiments that involved animal suffering, as they thought that “animals do not have mind like humans do, so they can’t process suffering.” As time has gone by, human’s perspective over animals has changed. Most people think that hurting animals is not acceptable, and that is why organizations like PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, exist.
The main ethical concern over animal experimentation is if it is right to use animals, and hurt them, to benefit the human race. Although it would seem like it is no different from eating meat or other products, one of the main problems is that “The majority of animal experiments do not contribute to improving human health, and the value of the role that animal experimentation plays in most medical advances is questionable” as PETA says on their online website.
According to PETA surveys, most of the supporters of animal experimentation are people who do not like to use animals in that way but think that there is no option as it is used for a good cause. But, how important is the experimentation on animals?
There are different views over this topic. For example, Stanford Medicine affirms that “Nothing so far has been discovered that can be a substitute for the complex functions of a living, breathing, whole-organ system…” and therefore, the animals must continue playing their role. While on the other side, PETA says that “it becomes even more unlikely that animal experiments will yield results that will be correctly interpreted and applied to the human condition in a meaningful way“ and that animals do not have an indispensable role in medical research anymore.
Talking about PETA’s view on the “Indispensability of lab animals,” they think that we have other options to conduct biomedical research, like In Vitro Testing. These types of non-animal tests “have the potential to be cheaper, faster, and more relevant to humans,” they say. Right now, animal-testing is used for almost all experimentations, but they hope this will change in the future.
For example, have the COVID-19 vaccines used animals to test their efficacy? The answer is no, as the vaccine has been rushed, not all the phases of the creation of a vaccine have happened, so the experimentation on animals has been far less present than in other vaccines.
Although that is true, Russia has recently claimed that they have the “world’s first coronavirus vaccine for animals”, as reported by Harry Brent in his article “World’s first COVID-19 vaccine for animals has been approved for use” in “The Irish Post.” That means that animals have been present in the process of understanding COVID-19, but in a smaller degree compared to vaccines like the flu.
The only question in this topic is: do the positive outcomes of using animals outweigh the negatives? That depends on each individual’s opinion. It depends on the subjective view over “are the benefits we get from treatments that use animals more valuable than the animals that die because of it?”
https://med.stanford.edu/animalresearch/why-animal-research.html “WHY ANIMAL RESEARCH?” by Stanford Medicine
https://www.nature.com/articles/3302371 “Use of animals in experimental research: an ethical dilemma?” by V. Baumans
https://www.amprogress.org/covid-19-resources/covid19animalresearch/ “The critical role of animals in developing CoVid-19 Treatments and Vaccines” by AMP
https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-afs:Content:9792931264 “Pfizer and Moderna did not skip animal trials” by Beatrice Dupuy
https://aldf.org/article/federal-laws-and-agencies-involved-with-animal-testing/ “Federal Laws and Agencies Involved With Animal Testing” by Animal Legal Defense Fund
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7416712/ “How the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity of animal research” by Curr Biol
https://www.yourgenome.org/debates/should-animals-be-used-in-research “Should animals be used in research” Debate (anonymous)
https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animals-used-experimentation-factsheets/animal-experiments-overview/ “Facts and Statistics About Animal Testing” by PETA
https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-bad-science/ “These Answers to Arguments for Animal Testing Prove It’s Bad Science” by PETA
https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-101/ “Animal testing facts and alternatives” by PETA
https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/11/researchers-rush-to-start-moderna-coronavirus-vaccine-trial-without-usual-animal-testing/ “Researchers rush to test coronavirus vaccine in people without knowing how well it works in animals” by Eric Boodman