Animal Testing Is Outdated and Cruel

Mason Rath, Staff Writer

Animal testing is one of those topics that, somehow, is ubiquitous in its relevance to public discourse over and over again even though it has been discussed endlessly to no avail. The argument boils down to a simple question of whether human lives are deemed more important than those of animals. Defenders of animal testing cite scientific breakthroughs and the similarity between humans and animals as reasons to continue the practice. On the other hand, those in opposition to animal testing explain that the method is not ethical, there are good alternatives, and that tests are often unreliable despite any existing similarities between humans and animals. Despite any benefits it may provide, animal testing is clearly an outdated and condemnable practice that deserves abolishment.

Animal testing is a rather broad term and essentially refers to any use of a non-human animal (referred to as animals) for experiments. These tests all have a fair reason for being conducted. Drugs and medicine are obviously important to public health and need to be safe for distribution. Many cosmetic products can be toxic or cause reactions on the skin. Reaction tests are used to understand more about the psychology of animals and humans. However, none of these things come without their respective drawbacks. The most obvious example is the suffering experienced by the subjects. Some of the tests, such as applying chemicals directly to the subject’s skin, or dripping products into their eyes can not only be extremely painful in the moment, but traumatic. Some subjects have even been known to experience symptoms of PTSD after being tested upon. This does not happen only occasionally, as ProCon says that “the US Department of Agriculture reported in Jan. 2020 that research facilities used over 300,000 animals in activities involving pain in one year.” Many may consider this a necessary evil, but philosophy comes into play. With the power inherited through superior intellect and advancement beyond any other animal, it is easy to think of humans as above animals. At the core there is nothing that separates a human from an animal, however, and putting them through pain such as this for any purpose other than survival suggests otherwise. At a minimum, suffering and pain in experiments must be removed, but treating these animals also brings about the idea that they are items. Is it morally right to treat another creature capable of feeling, thinking and living, as if they are a commodity?

Proponents of animal testing mainly credit just how successful it has been in the past. For example, ProCon mentions that “Animal research has contributed to major advances in treating conditions such as breast cancer, brain injury, childhood leukemia, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and more, and was instrumental in the development of pacemakers, cardiac valve substitutes, and anesthetics.” Additionally, many feel that animals are the only effective way to test because many of them are genetically similar to humans. Stanford testifies that 99 percent of human DNA is shared with chimpanzees and more than 98 with mice. They also feel that testing on anything but a living organism cannot simulate how the complex systems of a body interact with each other. Of course, animal testing contributing so much to humanity cannot be denied and it would be ignorant to ignore this fact. However, these statistics do not necessarily show the full story. Even one percent can make a big difference when it comes to something so complex as a human being or mouse. There are countless examples of animal testing yielding completely different results compared to human tests. The AAVS lists many examples but most notably that, “Acetaminophen is poisonous to cats, but is therapeutic in humans; penicillin is toxic in guinea pigs, but has been an invaluable tool in human medicine; and oral contraceptives prolong blood-clotting times in dogs, but increase a human’s risk of developing blood clots.” These are not simply one-off occasions either, but the status quo when it comes to animal testing. The AAVS also mentions that “nine out of ten experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory and animal studies.” This fruitless method of experimentation is not the only as some seem to think, as the AAVS found that the polio vaccine was first tested and failed on animals, but it was finally found to be as lifesaving as it is using human cell cultures.

It is always hard to abandon an idea or practice that seems to have proven so effective and useful in the past. When you look at the statistics, however, it becomes obvious that animal testing is not ethical and is no longer useful to our society. It is obvious that it is time to drop the practice entirely.