By Mark Lopresto, ALDF Guest Blogger on July 19, 2013
Like the factory farm industry and its massive abundance of animal growth for human consumption, science has become very gluttonous with its use of animals for research. The use of animals for testing can be found everywhere, and in almost every product we may unknowingly support.
Can we continue to ignore what we know is wrong by letting proponents of animal testing argue that it is the only viable option; an option that causes an arrant amount of pain and suffering? Some have questioned if we really understand what kind of pain an animal feels, or how can we know what the level of intensity is to the animal being tested on? As Peter Singer, moral philosopher and professor of Bioethics at Princeton University explains:
We have reasons to believe that non-human animals feel pain. Animals also respond to noxious stimuli much the same way we do. They avoid these stimuli and shriek, cry, or jerk when they can’t escape them.
Associating ethics with animal rights usually centers the ethics around the representation of the animals only. What happens if we consider that testing on animals for human comparison can bring inadequate data? The ethical question—for some begins to favor the human and not the animal. In his book Inhumane Society, Dr. Michael W. Fox quotes an excerpt taken from a scholarly article on birth defects.
Although billions of dollars have been spent worldwide on experiments that have sacrificed millions of mice, rats, and rabbits, in only two instances has a cause of birth defects in humans been found first in an animal,” and concerning cancer: “Chemotherapy—much of it based on animal research—is not proving effective in treating most forms of cancer, even though an estimated 200,000 patients are subjected to it and its harmful and sometimes fatal side effects.
Is it ethical to deem drugs safe for human consumption, that have been approved by testing on animals, when science can prove there are important differences between human and non-human animals? Are we stuck using animals as test models in the foreseeable future? Can the exceptional human mind—in combination with modern technology—put an end to current medical laboratory practices involving animal exploitation and animal testing?