Animal testing: Ethics, Morality and Scientific Necessity.


Any member of the new generation of scientists and engineers society about to leave the halls of educational institutions and enter the mazes of industry, Especially the medical industry, has been confronted at least once during his studying career with the idea of animal testing. This sensitive subject has been the topic of much debate for a long period of time. A quick search through the internet shows that using animals as an vessel for scientific experiments can be traced back to the time of the Greeks.

It is very hard to predict how my point of view, or that of the other team members, is going to change during the upcoming couple of months. But to have a starting point I’m going to state my current point of view to have something to compare with at later stages of this journey.

It is also important to state that when updating entries for this blog, the other team members and I will always be very open to all opinions and neutral in critically discussing them, despite our personal point of views.

As a struggling student and a potential Bioengineer specializing in the medical bio-engineering field, I have been confronted several times with this topic, whether during a lecture, mentioned in a scientific article that has a medical relevance, or from practicing scientists… Of course, this subject isn’t limited to the scientific world, but is also a frequent topic of conversation on the news or the reason for protests on the streets.’

Frankly, I think the debate taking place at the moment is a very stupid one. It is a debate in which people are trying to let two systems interact with each other. But each system is acting within a different dimension. And the very first basic concept that I’ve learned in engineering school is that you have to make sure that the units –or dimensions- of the parameters must be the same in order to be able to add them, subtract them or let them interact in any other way. In simple words, you cannot compare apples and oranges.

Why do I think that?

What I know from the protests is people holding huge posters with cruel pictures of animals that have been cut open with words written next to the pictures in very big letters such as “IS THIS NECESSARY?”  Or “STOP ANIMAL TESTING NOW” that are hanging around buildings where these experiments take place.

On the inside of those buildings, however, you have other people performing the tests. But those people, as far as I know, do not observe what is happening as cutting other living organisms open. But they observe them as systems. Systems where some actions will be induced and the reactions will be observed and noted. I also know that those animals are bred especially for research. There are several regulations and protocols to control the tests, In addition to institutions to make sure that those protocols are being followed.

One can see that although visible for one another, the two pools of this debate are functioning in different dimensions. To explain myself more I’m going to give a simple example wherein a biochemist and a physicist are looking at a tree. The biologist would be observing metabolic pathways and biochemical reactions taking place at the moment in this tree, while the physicist would start wondering about the tensile strength of this tree, and what function would such wood be best suited for. It would be very absurd for the biologist to tell the physicist “The biochemical reactions are much better than the tensile strength”. But as far as I know, this is what is happening right now in the animal testing debate.

Throughout the upcoming several months our team of four students will try to unfold this topic and use this blog to list the state of things and their reflections on it.

Finally we will go back to this first input to compare and see how the point of view on this debate has evolved.


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