University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Should Animals be used for experiments?
One of the most debated topics of our times is whether we should use animals for ex-periments or not. The interesting point that always comes up is what else is there instead of our dear friends. Without our lab creatures; our medicines, cosmetics and food would not be tested and might not be safe for our use and consumption.
The process of using animals to test safety of food and medicines was practiced for many centuries. People watched domestic animals and studied their eating habits to identify food and herbs that was safe for human consumption. This practice has been well docu-mented in Indian and Chinese medicine. Powerful and Wealthy individuals in ancient times used domestic animals to test whether their food was poisoned or not.
Animals were also sacrificed for meat and as a source of dietary supplement, a practice that exists to this day. Even now pig valves are used as a substitute for faulty human valves in heart surgeries. This process however will be discontinued as stem cell research progresses and human valves can be grown with human stems cells in the laboratory.
There are many uses for these lab animals. These creatures are genetically reengineered to display problems of human diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease and different types of weakness. They are also injected with different chemicals to observe their reac-tions. Animal studies are generally focused on observing chemical toxicology.
I feel that these creatures should be used as long as there is no torture inflicted upon them. They are our only help to cure human health problems as they have similar genetic structure. If tested on humans, the products could be fatal or cause great damage. The fact that other forms of testing are much more expensive and not easy; this is the only alterna-tive for pre-clinical trials.
Many companies breed animals with different symptoms to sell to pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies allowing them to test whether their products are toxic or not. The dosages of the product are altered and tested for their efficacy. In the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) impose stringent laws on how the product is de-veloped and tested before it is sold in the market.
Where would the modern drug industry be, if there was a total ban on animal testing? The only other alternative to using the fast breeding rodent family to study drug toxicology would be healthy human volunteers. If such a process was followed, the drug industry would come to a halt every time there was a human fatality as a result of an early stage pre-clinical toxicology study. This would result in liability law suits for the pharmaceuti-cal industry. The progress of discovering new and better medicines for mankind and all of the animals that we support both endangered and domestic will be lost for ever.
Animal testing carried out with a watchful eye, and done with a sense of conscience for the broader good of all is totally justified. The only time one can start to discontinue such a practice is when knowledge of life and the universe reaches a point where computation and simulation process can eliminate the risks of toxicity in the drug development proc-ess.