Based on these facts, the scientific community and animal welfare groups support animal experiments in medical research where it is found to be absolutely necessary.
To counter the main argument in favor of animal experiments, animal rights groups contend that all sentient creatures are capable of feeling pain and, therefore, conducting experiments on animals is the moral equivalent to using brain damaged humans or infants before the age of reasoning (Goodwin & Morrison, 2000). In addition, they argue that animal experiments can be misleading since the organs of animals react differently to that of humans. As proof, animal rights activists point to examples such as the failure to find anything similar to the cholera process in animals or the fact that all tests on animals failed completely in the case of the drug Thalidomide (Mather, 2003). To further strengthen the case against the use of animals in medical research, other arguments that are commonly used are: the existence of alternatives such as test tube studies on human tissue cultures, statistics, and computer models; the fact that the stress endured by animals in laboratories can affect experiments, making the exercise meaningless; and the use of animals to test items like cleaning products simply cannot be justified on the grounds of benefiting humankind (BBC, 2004).
One conclusion that can perhaps be drawn after a critical examination of all the arguments in favor of and against the use of animals in medical experiments is that both sides display a concern for animal welfare. Therefore, the nub of the issue really lies in whether animals have equal rights to that of human beings and whether medical science has benefited from research on animals.
On the latter issue, there can be little doubt that the health of both animals and humans has benefited from such past research. On the first issue, however, perhaps the matter can best be settled by pointing out that the principle of “valuing all forms of life” is one that is well accepted, which is why the effort to replace the use of animals is well under way. Therefore, hopefully the day is not far off when alternative methods can be successfully used in all medical research. Till such time, however, the use of animals in medical experiments is necessary to advance the frontiers of knowledge that will surely benefit all forms of life.
AMP. “Animal Welfare or Animal Rights? Americans for Medical Progress Web site.
Accessed March 22, 2005: www.amprogress.org/ResearchOpposition/ResearchOppositionmain.cfm
BBC. “Science & Nature: Hot Topics. Animal Experiments.” BBC Web site. August 17, 2004. Accessed March 22, 2005: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/hottopics/animalexperiments/alternatives.shtml
FRAME. “The Aims of FRAME.” Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical
Experiments Web site. Accessed March 22, 2005: http://www.frame.org.uk/
Goodwin, F.K., & Morrison, a.R. “Science and Self-Doubt: Why animal researchers must remember that human beings are special.” Reason Online. October 2000. Accessed March 22, 2005: http://reason.com/0010/fe.fg.science.shtml
Mather, H. “Medical Experiments on Animals Mislead and hold back Progress.” Vegan
Views 96. Spring 2003. Accessed March 22, 2005: http://www.veganviews.org.uk/vv96/vv96medicalexperiments.html.