Nowadays, animal testing is a subject that often occurs. Some people think it is needed in research, meanwhile others think it is not allowed to sacrifice animals for sciences because they are treated badly during their lifetime. Although some opponents do not consider the fact that animals are also used in food industry. Basically, laboratory animals are breed for sciences and will guarantee improvements in this field, so everyone would benefit from it. In particular, pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic industries and household companies can improve their products by testing them on animals, leading to a better life quality and more satisfied costumers.
However, beside the benefits of it there are also some disadvantages (Stubblefield, 2009; Murnaghan, 2010c). Costs of housing animals, the reproducibility in human and the necessity of the product are aspects which they often need to consider more before using laboratory animals. Therefore alternative tests are needed to reduce the use of animals. In vitro techniques are considered as important alternatives but they lack the complexity of the human body (Murnaghan, 2010a). The use of lower organisms, such as bacteria, fungi and insects, can complement these shortcomings because they can produce substances which animals also can create (Murnaghan, 2010a). Other possibilities are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) , positron emission tomography (PET) scans, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans and telemetry. These are methods to follow the physiological processes in animals without treating them, so these are also good alternatives that can be used. Synthetic membranes, statistics and computer models can also avoid the use of animals. Synthetic membranes can be used to determine the effect of chemicals and treatments on skin tissue. Statistical procedures can allow researchers to use comprehensive data sets to better gauge how a disease can spread. Using data that was previously obtained from animal testing also reduces the number of animals. Computer models are an effective tool to simulate the response to specific research question or experiments (Murnaghan, 2010b). These techniques do not replace an entire organism, but they have proved to be useful as a substitute for animals in some cases.
There should also be a distinction made between what is really improving humanity and what makes it just aesthetically. Improvements in cosmetics aren’t promotional for humanity so animal testing should be limited. Some companies, like the Body Shop (“The Body Shop,” 2010), already banned animal testing because they are against it, but also because you can not always be sure your product has the same effect in humans as in animals. Where some companies manipulate the animals, others search for human volunteers to test their products on, assuming their product is safe, which is in my opinion a good alternative to test the product.
According to the European guidelines – The Council Directive 86/609/EEC (Environment, 2010), investigators should also take into account that experiments are not carried out unnecessarily. Therefore, Member States must accept to mutually recognize their scientific results.
In my opinion, animals are needed to improve life quality. It is just the rule of nature. I don’t say they are always treated well, but for research sometimes it is needed to put them in a non-friendly environment.
However, animals may not suffer according to the law. When the animal gets adverse events from the experiment, researchers are required to give them painkillers. At worst, if the animal reaches the human endpoints, like no eating or drinking, loss of body weight, extreme tumor growth, serious respiratory problems and aberrant behavior and movements, a scoring list will be evaluated. When a score above 4 is reached the animal will be euthanized (Holsbeeks, 2011). This indicates that the welfare of the animal is definitely taken into account.
Nevertheless, there are some organizations against animal testing, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)which is worldwide the biggest organization against the treatment of animals. They try to convince people by proclaiming that animals can not be used for experiments, clothes, food industry and entertainment (“People for Ethical Treatment of Animals,” 2011). Animal Liberation Front (ALF)c is another organization but these act directly illegal for animal liberation (Berlin, 2011). InBelgium, there are also foundations like the Anti-Animal Coalition(AAC), which are focusing on the animals that are used for animal testing.
Beside these organizations, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA)is an international peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles on the latest research relating to the development, validation, introduction and use of alternatives to laboratory animals (“Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments,” 2006). This allows researchers to keep abreast of possible alternatives, which they can possibly perform in the future.
In conclusion, I think animal testing can not be avoided. It actually provides reliable and reproducible results and decreases the discomfort of animals. It is needed when you want to improve life quality of human beings or other species because most alternative techniques do not show how the entire human system will respond. Therefore, animals are being considered as the most similar model to represent the human body. But I think when good alternatives are available and useful for a specific research tool, investigators need to choose for such techniques, so the use of animals will reduce.
During this discussion my opinion on laboratory animals isn’t changed. I am even more convinced that animal testing is needed, while taking into account the rights of the animals. I think people should be open to animal testing because they often don’t know how the whole procedures are taking place. The investigators definitely be aware of the risks and will treat the animals as good as possible during their experiments. If we want improvements in our community, animal testing is indispensible.
Berlin, A. (2011). Animal Liberation Front, from http://www.animalliberationfront.com/
The Body Shop. (2010), from http://www.thebodyshop-usa.com/
Environment, E. C. (2010, 26 October 2010). Laboratory Animals, from http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/nextsteps_en.htm
Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. (2006), from http://www.frame.org.uk/page.php?pg_id=18
Holsbeeks, I. (2011). Laboratory animals. Trends and Innovations in the Biochemical Sector, Group T – Leuven Engineering College
Murnaghan, I. (2010a, 20 August 2010). About Animal Testing, from http://www.aboutanimaltesting.co.uk/replacing-animal-tests-with-stem-cells.html
Murnaghan, I. (2010b, 31 August 2010 ). New Technologies as Alternatives to Animal Testing, from http://www.aboutanimaltesting.co.uk/new-technologies-alternatives-animal-testing.html
Murnaghan, I. (2010c, 9 December 2010). Using Animals for Testing: Pros vs cons, from http://www.aboutanimaltesting.co.uk/using-animals-testing-pros-versus-cons.html
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. (2011), from http://www.peta.org
Stubblefield, H. (2009, 24 August 2009). The Pros and Cons of Animal Testing. Medical Science, from http://www.edubook.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-animal-testing/11965/