Being An Animal Vs. A Cure For Disease
When a member of an opposite viewpoint attempts to describe their position and acknowledge the views of their opposition, it is always wise to listen with an open mind. That is the mindset the author of this paper seeks to inspire in animal activists and medical researchers alike. In this paper, they draw on over thirty medical research studies to describe the conditions in which the medical community finds the use of animal experimentation justifiable. Their argument is that animal experimentation is justified in the following five cases: basic scientific research, models for human diseases, pharmaceutical research, toxicity testing and surgical skills training or simulation.
The author references advancements in our understanding of the endocrine, immune, and nervous system to show how animal models have been necessary to develop our knowledge on these systems and ultimately to understand the diseases that emerge from them. However, they concede that supporters of animal welfare are valid in their concerns about genetically modifying animals to study disease.
The author then describes how animals are the preferred model for testing the safety of drugs and chemicals before they are introduced to humans. He optimistically remarks that animal experimentation in pharmaceutical and toxicology research will either plateau or decline, asserting that “it is difficult to envisage a future in which there will be a rise in the use of animals for pharmaceutical research and development.” It’s worth noting here, however, that there are many factors which might contribute to a rise in animal use, including the exportation of these practices to other parts of the world where they are not so heavily regulated.
After describing why animals are in some ways necessary for these five goals of medical science, the author goes on to acknowledge their limitations as models for human diseases and therapies. However, they are quick to condemn animal rights activists for taking violent action against researchers who use animals in their labs. Their view is that the correct ethical position on animal experimentation is a matter of perception. They quote one researcher who stated that “you could phase out the use of animals if you were prepared to put more risks on to humans.” Nonetheless, they express optimism about the use of alternatives. They agree that animal experimentation should be curbed as much as possible by these methods, and applaud legal regulation that protects animal welfare in medical research.
This paper provides an interesting roadmap for animal advocates to follow when it comes to debating animal use in science. Although the author attempts to give due consideration to animal advocates, they seem convinced that the community is full of radical campaigners who prioritize animal well being above human wellbeing to a dangerous extent. If animal advocates are to change the medical community’s perception of our goals, we would do well to educate ourselves on medicine’s justifications for animal experimentation and approach the discussion with a balanced, well-informed stance. The medical community, in turn, must acknowledge that a concern for animal welfare is not mutually exclusive with a concern for human welfare, and that animal advocates on average tend to have more nuanced views on contentious issues such as animal experimentation.