Animal testing has been at the forefront of most advances in medical history. Without it, we would assuredly be ages behind where we are now in terms of medical sciences. Animal testing is a highly controversial topic with many opponents who would go out of their way to “liberate” these animals who were born for this reason, bred in captivity so as to do no damage to the species as a whole. The evidence supporting animal testing is insurmountable, but as with many arguments, for every logical explanation, there is an illogical counter.
Without animal experimentation, we would not have made the significant leaps in medical technology as fast and early as we did. Thanks to animal testing, we have made incredible strides in stem cell research, a highly controversial yet incredibly important advancement in the medical field, which gives us the ability to one-day repair damaged organs and even regrow entire limbs. Had it not been for our growing appendages on rats in controlled environments we would not have been able to examine the effects stem cells would have on the body.
Being the highly controversial topic that it is, stem cell research has many opponents. The most popular argument against stem cell research has been that we gather stem cells from the source: human fetuses. As we all know, it is a heinous crime to murder an innocent human being and, as previously mentioned, the best way to acquire stem cells is through the destruction of human fetuses. It is because these fetuses are human that they have the same right to live as any grown adult, as it should be.
Much like animals, fetuses lack the ability to speak for themselves, lack the ability to argue against their destruction before they are even aware of the fact they are about to have their lives terminated. The strongest opponent of stem cell research is the Catholic Church, stating that stem cells can only be acquired through the destruction of innocent lives and that stem cell research has, in it’s 15 years of development, has not led to any significant advances in science. While the Catholic Church does have somewhat of a leg to stand on with their argument, but here’s three reasons why it’s not the best informed.
First, contrary to popular belief, the acquisition of stem cells is no long solely dependent on human fetuses. In fact, scientists have found that adult skin cells, even animal cells (from which the topic of animal experimentation comes from), have been shown to provide viable cells for study in a lab. Alok Jha, a physics graduate from Imperial College London and science correspondent for The Guardian, states that these new stem cells are actually derived from adult skin cells, which are then coaxed into mutating into whatever type of cell the researcher wishes to observe.
Second, scientists have in fact figured out how to use stem cells to treat various diseases, including juvenile diabetes, motor neuron degenerative disorders and sickle cell anemia (to name a couple). In another article, also written by Alok Jha, it states that the first kidney grown from rat embryonic stem cells in a lab was successfully transplanted in a rat and shows no signs of rejection. In fact the kidney successfully filtered blood and produced urine, showing promising signs for the future of stem cell research.
Finally, the Church’s argument against stem cell research is rooted heavily on the use and manipulation of the reader’s pathos. This appeal to emotions is fallacious as it removes any desire in the reader to think logically about stem cell research. This fallacy begs the question: is the Church against this because their religion tells them to be (which would a fallacy in and of itself) or because they are providing sound, logical evidence to support their claim. Insofar as I have seen, their argument lacks any logical reasoning whatsoever.
Thanks to animal testing we have made serious advances in vaccinations of deadly diseases. Discoverer of the cholera vaccine, Louis Pasteur would not have been able to test his hypothesis had he not been able to experiment on chickens. Hemophilus Influenzae type B, a major cause of meningitis, was the cause of nearly 800 young child fatalities every year in the United States. Because the scientists who discovered the pathogen responsible for the transmission of the virus were able to experiment on rabbits and mice, occurrences of the disease have dropped over 70% in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Not only were animals pivotal in the development of vaccines, they were also key in the development of antibacterial and antibiotic medications. While not having been directly been experimented on, rats were chosen to prove the non-toxicity of the penicillin antibiotic by Alexander Fleming. The success of these antibiotics led to the dramatic decrease in infections caused by open-wound contamination – 5 out of ever 100,000 (or 60 yearly) mothers contracted deadly bacterial infections, a reduction from the previous statistic of 200 out of 100,000 (or 1000 yearly).
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly known as PETA, is perhaps the most influential animals rights advocacy group with ties around the world. Their members range from average citizens to celebrities in today’s modern media. They are perhaps the most active opponents of animal testing (and cruelty in general) in the world. One of their more famous victories involves another animal rights group, the Animal Liberation Front, who PETA strongly supports.
In 1985, the ALF found out about a macaque monkey named Britches who was being used for experimentation at University of California Riverside. ALF members entered the campus, disabled the lab security and rescued Britches, along with numerous other animals being used for experiments. After the animals were liberated, a doctor looked at Britches, and released a gruesome report, stating, “Attached to infant’s head by means of bandage and tape is an apparatus of some sort with what appears to be some sort of electrical cord extending from it.
It has been cut. Bilaterally are short lengths of tubing emerging from the bandage. Tape is in direct contact with the face and neck. Bandage lifted rostrally from right eye due to excessive moisture and right eye partially visible. Beneath the bandages are two cotton pads, one for each eye. Both pads are filthy and soaked with moisture. Bilaterally upper eyelids are sutured to lower eyelids. The sutures are grossly oversized for the purpose intended. Many of these sutures have torn through lid tissue resulting in multiple lacerations of the lids.
There is an open space between upper and lower lids of both eyes of about one quarter inch, and sutures are contacting corneal tissue resulting in excessive tearing” (Buyukmihci). Along with Britches, PETA and the ALF are responsible for many other campaigns to end animal testing and have released documentation stating that the same experiments can in fact be conducted on humans. Without a doubt, PETA is a very influential organization that fights for a valiant cause. However, there are many problems with the evidence presented. Firstly, the evidence is incredibly one-sided.
Although terrible, the conditions Britches was kept in was necessary for the experiment, of which neither PETA nor the ALF knew anything about. In fact, the ALF only found out about the experiments being conducted at UCR due to an anonymous tip from a student who, reportedly, had nothing to do with the science department. Not only do I find this a very unconvincing reason to break into a university, I find it a rather obscene use of power. As previously stated, none of the three parties involved in the raid knew any background information on what exactly the university was testing on these animals.
In fact, after Britches and the other animals were “rescued” and a formal complaint was filed against the university, the National Institute of Health conducted an 8 month long investigation and concluded that there was in no way an inappropriately conducted experiment and that no corrective action was necessary. But perhaps the most offensive part of this victory, if you could call it that, was the fact that the ALF broke into a university, disabled lab security and destroyed $700,000 dollars worth of lab material, over half of which was not and had never been intended for use in animal experiments.
In fact, after the video of the felony was released for viewing by the masses, the head of the NIH released a statement saying that the thefts of animals by animal rights groups could be considered acts of terrorism. To make it worse, the video the ALF released to PETA is rife with fallacies, as the opening scene depicts wild macaques in their natural habitat. This scene gives the viewer a sense that Britches was born in the wild and was stolen away from his mother, when in fact he was born in captivity for the purpose of experimentation.
Within two minutes of the film, more fallacies are made evident. The narrator claims that scientists had described the Britches experiment as “utterly useless. ” My question is, who are these scientists? Where do they work? What kind of research do they do? For all we know, they could have nothing to do with biology and animal experiments. The video also states that the experiment was paid for through tax dollars, to which I say, “show me the proof. ” The video continues to bring up numerous other fallacies, but the point has been made.
PETA relies heavily on their ability to manipulate their audience’s emotions, again, removing the desire to think logically about the situation. Animal experimentation paved the way for surgical advancements as well. Open-heart surgery was made possible with the experimentation of anesthetized cats. Open-valve bypass surgery was made possible through experimentation on monkeys. Transplant surgery, something that prior to the early 1900’s was an extremely complicated, and often unsuccessful, task, one failure for every 3 successful transplants.
In 1962, thanks to his experimentation on dogs, Archibald McIndoe successfully re-attached a severed limb and restored limited function and feeling. Animal testing has paved the way for medical science; without animal testing we would not be nearly where we are today in terms of the kinds of reparative surgeries and vaccinations were it not for animal testing. The opponents of animal testing suggest we test on humans instead, and while I agree that some of the effects these tests have on the animals is appalling, it would be impossible however to expect anyone in the right state of mind to volunteer to be tested on.
Opponents of animal testing say that it puts the species in danger, to which I say these animals are bred in captivity and have been for generations so there’s no way testing on them would in any way affect the species’ population. To conclude, I don’t see any logical way to argue against the use of animal testing for the betterment of medical science, nor do I see how one could even suggest using humans as a means of testing. 1. Barnard, Neal D. and Stephen R. Kaufman. “Animal Research is Wasteful and Misleading” Scientific American Forum (79) February 1997
Neal Barnard and Stephen Kaufman are both physicians. Barnard is a researcher of nutritional sciences and Kaufman is the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and co-chair of the Medical Research Modernization Committee. Both authors provide moderately compelling evidence as to why animal testing is an inapplicable means to an end. The authors are, for the most part, logically sound but the article does have some fallacies. This makes their work somewhat questionable as to their credibility, but as a whole the article is laid out in a way that makes their claim easy to understand. . Botting, Jack H. , Morrison, Adrian R. “Animal Research is Vital to Medicine. ” Scientific American Forum (83) February 1997 Jack Botting, a retired university lecturer and former scientific advisor to the Research Defense Society in London, and Adrian Morrison, director of the Laboratory for Study of the Brain in Sleep at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, have both been active members in the defense of animal research since the 1980’s.
In their publication, they explain how many of the technological advancements we’ve made in the medical field have been due to animal testing. Botting and Morrison provide sound evidence and draw on statistical as well as historical evidence to support their argument, which are their personal beliefs. The authors do well to avoid logical fallacy, which further adds on their credibility. The manner of which the piece is organized and the way their ideas are laid out make this article an easy read for any reader. 3. Buyukmihci, Ned. “Britches Medical Report. ” PETA. org 1985
Ned Buyukmihci, veterinary ophthalmologist at the University of California, Davis, and founder of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, has strong ties to PETA and various other animal rights groups. In 2003, Buyukmihci took the director position of the Animal Protection Institute’s primate sanctuary in Dilley, Texas. 4. Dewey, John. “The Ethics of Animal Experimentation. ” The Atlantic September 1 1926 (republished) John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential both in education and social reform and the author of several notable published books.
In this article, he explains that while there is no moral justification for the “wanton infliction of suffering upon any sentient being” is inherently wrong. He counters this statement by stating that pain inflicted in the name of science is not pain needlessly inflicted provided the animal is properly anesthetized. Dewey’s logic, although based on 1920’s thinking, is sound and mostly free of fallacious statements. He avoids generalizations, relying on his ability to call on society as a whole.
The style and manner of which this article was written provides a clear roadmap to how Dewey believes animal experimentation should be regulated. 5. Jha Alok. “ Lab-Grown Kidney Transplanted into Animal” That Guardian April 15, 2013 Alok Jha, the science correspondent for the Guardian, is a physics graduate from Imperial College London and has worked at the Guardian since they began writing science articles in 2003. He is the author of two published novels. Jha defends the use of animals in lab experimentation, stating that transplant surgery is making incredible strides for the betterment of human life.
Jha uses logical reasoning and provides compelling statistics to back up his claim, which is free of logical fallacies. His article follows a chronological path of the history of transplant surgery, making it incredibly easy to follow what he’s saying. 6. Jha, Alok. “Animal Experiments Rise by 1%” The Guardian July 13, 2011 Alok Jha, the science correspondent for the Guardian, is a physics graduate from Imperial College London and has worked at the Guardian since they began writing science articles in 2003.
He is the author of two published novels. Jha defends the use of animals in lab experimentation, stating that more animals are used every year for the purpose of food and companionship. Jha’s writing is logically sound, providing statistics for nearly every claim he provides. Although one-sided his articles are free of fallacious statements and provides counter-arguments and his rebuttals in all of his writings, making his claims more note-worthy. 7. PETA. “Animals are NOT Ours to Experiment On” PETA. org August 17, 2011
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been at the forefront of the fight to ban animal testing since their establishment in the 80’s. Funding various other animal rights groups, they protest not only animal testing but also the food industry and the improper farming techniques of those who raise animals for food. PETA relies heavily on their ability to “tug at the heartstrings,” providing almost no logical evidence to support their claims. Despite them being well educated in their cause it begs the question how they get their information, and why we should believe them without numbers and stats.
Despite these fallacies, writers for PETA are very skilled at organizing articles that would be compelling were they free of questionable statements. 8. Rowan, Andrew L. “The Benefits and Ethics of Animal Research. ” Scientific American Forum (10) February 1997 Andrew Rowan, the director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University explains how while animal testing is a necessary part of the advancement of medicine there are costs to the work scientists do. He states that there is “much room to challenge the benefits of animal research nd much room to defend such research,” suggesting that he leaves his personal opinions out of the publication.
Rowan provides a forum for which various authors argue their opinions about the validity and ethics behind animal testing and the results it leads to. In this sense, the article has the potential to provide paradigm-shifting answers to the many questions surrounding animal testing. Because of the nature of the forum, the amount of corroboration adds to the credibility of the authors publishing their works.