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Is Animal Testing Ethical?

The ethics of animal testing has always been questioned. Some say that using animals in scientific research has definitely helped to enhance human life. Not only has animal experimentation enhanced human life, but it has saved many lives by not testing on human beings first. A great many medical breakthroughs have depended on the use of laboratory animals and much of the research today still depends on those experiments. In contrast to this, some other say that by just putting an animal under anesthesia does not get rid of the ethical wrongness, animal testing and research is cruel and should be done away with. There are numerous reasons why people and organizations want animal testing changed. People of all nations and religions argue differently on this topic. While most people think animal testing is necessary, others are upset by what they see as needless suffering. But the common fact that people have to accept is that there are many positive and negative aspects of animal testing. The key issues in the controversy of animal testing are whether people have the right to play God and sacrifice defenseless animals to inhumane treatments?

Firstly, let us begin with the arguments against animal testing. A group in opposition of animal testing is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Their main claim is put as, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment”. Perhaps the most important point is that animals may be suffering unnecessarily. Another basic argument of animal rights defenders is that people and animals are different genetically and therefore it is useless to use animals in experiments to see the effects of some substances on people. They claim that it will make no good to use animals in experiments because they are too different to be compared to people. Some of them even assert that it is better to use people directly as they think that the results of experiments on animals cannot be valid and reliable as long as the same observation has not been done on man also. However, they say that the people who follow this act cannot foresee the disastrous results of such a practice. Many people are likely to die until a healthy result is obtained. Furthermore, the people who are against this act feel animal testing is ineffective; they point out that many drugs still have to be withdrawn from the market despite extensive testing.  They say that it would be better to see alternatives used like human corpse for these testing and rely more on organ donors. Another research to support this would be about a popular worldwide franchise company. The Body Shop, opposes animal testing in the production of cosmetics. They claim there are alternative methods a company can employ instead of testing animals. The Body Shop’s products carry the company’s “Against Animal Testing” (AAT) stance. They have an “ATT policy and the annual compliance checks we run involving all our suppliers are also subject to independent review” (The Body Shop). They claim companies can avoid animal testing by not buying ingredients from suppliers that test on animals. The Body Shop stresses the point that companies should not fund others that test or commission animal testing, which can be gauged by supplier monitoring and rating systems (The Body Shop).

On the other hand, there are also people who deny the statement that says animal testing should be banned. Today there are great deals of people who oppose animal testing in laboratory research. This is limiting today’s medical capabilities. Could we be holding ourselves back from medical breakthroughs such as a cure for cancer or AIDS? Animal testing is already controlled to a great extent. Animal testing is not as cruel as it is portrayed and is essential to reaching medical breakthroughs. Since animals share many features with humans, scientists use animals to test the safety and effectiveness of newly developed drugs. Furthermore animal testing has contributed a great deal to both animals and humans. Albert Sabin, the developer of oral polio vaccine stated: “Without the use of animals and human beings, it would have been impossible to acquire the important knowledge needed to prevent much suffering and premature death not only among humans, but also among animals.” Experimentation on animals was essential to the development of Dr. Sabin’s oral polio vaccine, which has virtually eradicated poliomyelitis in the Western Hemisphere, saved over 500,000 lives, and millions from the debilitating effects of polio. The transplantation of major organs, and many other surgical techniques, depends on the ability to join blood vessels. An effective method was developed by Alexis Carrel using cats and dogs, and for this he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1912. Today transplants are far more common than in his day. Thereby considering these facts, it is difficult to accept that animal testing is an unethical act done by the scientists, besides it is due to all these testing that the present cures for dangerous illnesses have been found.

In addition to both these arguments, the Medical Research Council (MRC) has taken steps to please both doctors and scientists who favor animal research, and those who oppose it. They have developed a plan known as the 3Rs, in which they plan to replace, refine, and reduce animal testing by means of new research. The MRC feels they can further benefit technology and also please those against testing by using non-animal research methods. Wherever possible minimize the number of animals used while still ensuring clear experimental results, research to ensure the minimum of pain and distress caused to animals for justifiable medical research. The MRC claims this will become the future for animal testing, since it aims to please in humane ways. (MRC)

Therefore in conclusion, the main factor in deciding the moral correctness of animal experimentation is one’s personal belief. Using animals for medical research is ethical a long as it contributes to scientific development and helps scientists find ways to improve human health. And this practice is only acceptable on the condition that necessary pains are taken and animals are treated humanely. Although some animal testing may be unavoidable at present, treating our fellow creatures mercifully will demonstrate our humanity. No matter which side a person takes on this topic, they feel there are several things that must be done to benefit their stance and its publicity. Therefore we should accept the good, bad and ugly sides of animal testing.

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