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Use of non-human animals in scientific studies

  1. Feb 15, 2004 #1
    Lately in a biomedical ethics class I am enrolled in, we've been discussing the underlying values and moral issues involved in testing on non-human animals.

    Most ethical theories advocating the use of animals in research run into trouble when they attempt to draw a line between humans, and other animals. When attempting to say that non-human animals are not conscious beings, or do not have the capacity for understanding rights, or whatever else you might attempt to say in this line of belief, you run into trouble when compared to the severly disabled or non-conscious humans who should fall into the same category. Is it then legitimate to test on the disabled? (I don't believe this, just want to know your thoughts and justifications)

    What are your thoughts on this, is there a line that can be drawn between the severly disabled and non-human animals such as primates, or even mammals in general?

    I myself am an immunology major, and as such I have tested on mice etc. in the lab. I also have mice that I keep as pets at home, which I tend to look at from a different angle than those I rely on in the lab for my studies. Do you believe this to be hypocritical?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2004 #2
    I disagree with tests on Dolphins as they are sentient. Despite the reputation Dolphin lovers have for being pot smoking hippies, I cannot deny that Dolphines are borderline sentient.

    I also disagree with sticking needles into the brains of apes whilst they are conscious etc..

    Otherwise I do not disagree with infecting apes with new strains of typhoid and testing antibiotics on them in a rush to find a cure etc..

    From my perspective, the lives of 20000 apes are not worth the life of an 80 year old who is about to die tommorrow. Torturing animals should otherwise be avoided.

    Likewise the life of an 80 year old who is about to die tommorrow is not worth the lives of 20000 dolphins, though I doubt that this situation will ever arise, it gives an impression of my contempt for animal life compared to human life, though my compassion when it does not concern humans.

    I do not believe your opinion to be hypocritical. My opinion however raises serious questions concerning sentience and our attitude towards sentient alien life, if ever this situation arises.
  4. Feb 16, 2004 #3
    Interesting question you pose--is there a line that can be drawn between the severly disabled and non-human animals such as primates, or even mammals in general?

    Viewing this situation from a ethical point of view...there is no difference testing on a severly disabled person and a non-human animal. Some may argue that a disabled person is self-aware, but an animal isn't. Then if a severaly disabled person is unaware of self then is it ok to use him/her?

    Many will probably say, human life intrinsically has more worth than non-human. Why? Superior intellegence, emotional capacity...but the scientific community has had to begrudgingly accept that animals share with us a wide range of emotional capacity, and are extremely intelligent.

    Then we can argue, well ethically it may not be right to use animals since they can suffer and would chose, if they could, not to be tested on...but we have no other way, this sacrifice is justified.

    But here are better ways! Animal-modeled biomedical research has often yielded results that cannot be safely applied to humans. It diverts research dollars that should be going to proven methods of curing human disease. (to learn more www.curedisease.com)

    The point is that we live in a time where so much technology is available to us. In the last decade over 500 companies have stopped testing on animals...i think in a hundreds years we will look back at the use of animals as one of the most inhumane acts in science.
  5. Feb 18, 2004 #4
    Actually, I do view it as hypocritical.

    I would condone experimenting on a brain-dead person, but not conscious animals (which includes conscious humans). It is not much different from when the nazis experimented on humans during the Holocaust.

    Dolphins are not border-line sentient; they are. So are all mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish, except in some cases of brain damage, and many other animal species.

    In addition to the direct suffering inflicted upon the subjects of the experiments, these experiments are often conducted when clinical information based on humans is in abundance, and experiments on animals are often fraught with inaccuracy, due to the biological differences between humans and other animals, and can lead to problems in humans (for example, when chemicals are dangerous/deadly to humans, but not to rats in the same quantities).
  6. Feb 21, 2004 #5

    Not only is the use of animals in experimentation grossly immoral, but it's also inefficient, wasteful, and done to the detriment of humanity.

    Statistically, chemicals react similarly in mice and rats approximately 50% of the time. There's a coin toss chance that any chemical you force a mouse to intake will have a similar reaction in a rat. The probability that a drug that cures cancer in mice will also cure cancer in rats is exactly the same as the probability that the drug will cause severe neurological damage, increased heart rate, or even death in the rat.

    The statistic probability that a chemical will react similarly in mice and people is about 2%. Data derived from mice cannot even be reasonably applied to rats. To attempt to extrapolate data from such studies and apply them to human beings is absurdly unscientific. And it's precisely because of this illogical and hateful "science" that thousands of people become severely ill or die every year. Almost half of all pharmaceuticals that pass preliminary animal studies and are released to the public end up being recalled because they cause unprecedented side effects in humans- often including death.

    The animal tests are wholly useless. They serve absolutely no benefit. Because of the physiological differences in all animals, you can always find some animal that will react a particular way to any substance. Sheep can eat arsenic. Dogs die if they eat chocolate. The cure for polio was shelved for years and almost abandoned because it didn't work in rabbits or primates. Aspirin causes birth defects in rodents and primates. It's a simple and inescapable fact that animal testing is inefficient, misleading, and scientifically unsound.

    But none of that really even matters. I don't need to know whether or not vivisection can benefit humanity to know that it is immoral. Torturing and killings animals is inexcusable. Animals have absolutely no interest in human endeavors and to force them into a position where they are sacrificed for our benefit is selfish, arrogant, self-obsessed, and hateful.

    It is wrong. The fact that it is impossible to extrapolate data from animal tests and reasonably apply them to human beings is just the vegan icing on the cake.

    Apathy is silent hatred. Compassion is defending innocent lives as if they were your own. Veganism is the only answer.
  7. Feb 21, 2004 #6
    The extremes in which mankind is willing to go in the name of progress is amazing. To assume that it is morally acceptable to subjugate non-human animals to slavery and experimentation for our benefit is completely absurd. Looking at the human race from a neo-malthusian point of view really puts the situation into perspective. We are slowly killing off our species and our planet in the name of "progress". We have eliminated or nearly eliminated any type of natural check or balance on the human population. Our resources will continue to dwindle and our population will continue to skyrocket. So in effect all issues of Vivisection being absolutely and undeniably morally reprehensible the simple fact that we artifically keep humans alive that would naturally not live under basic medical care at the cost of many healthy and very very sentient animals that can experience pain and suffering is in the grand scheme of things completely counter productive. Yet another simple observation. Look at the insane resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. In our own desperate search for self preservation we have damn near rendered one of our most valuable frontline defenses against encroaching infectious disease useless. So the world will keep on harvesting healthy strong animals from the wild and the cruel and disgusting experiments will continue and the population will grow, the oceans will be stripped bare, the rainforests will be levelled and farmed to maximum capacity, the oil and natural gas will run out and what will we be left with in the name of progress, science and advancement of mankind? 30 billion people who are starving, sick, mostly homeless and dying. That is undeniably our future unless we work towards sustainability, and better environmental practices and a fantastic first step towards stopping our inevatible destruction is realizing that we dont own the earth or its creatures or its resources. We are part of the earth and need to realize that and treat it as such. We are just one of the creatures who just so happened to be blessed with a bit more mental capacity than the rest. Self preservation is an innate instinct in all people but you have to realize that at what cost does it come? And are you truly saving yourself or just extending your misery.

    I do apologize for going off topic a bit there and sounding a touch rantish but I think the mindset that justifies vivisection has roots in a lot of different places as well. There are many many alternatives to vivisection (experimentation on human tissue cultures for one) that are much more effective and humane. Please dont support taking the cheap and easy way out at the expense of another creatures well being.
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