Is animal testing effective? Is it scientifically viable? Can research on animals save human lives? If so, then vivisection would only be opposable on moral and ethical grounds…not scientific ones.
Most people can agree that animal testing (vivisection) is horrific. And most people can get behind banning animal testing of things like cosmetics. However, when it comes to potentially live-saving medicine, the line of “necessary evil” can begin to blur.
So, is animal testing scientifically viable? Can research on animals save human lives? If so, then vivisection would only be opposable on moral and ethical grounds–not scientific ones.
This post is the first in a series covering aspects of animal testing, and will focus on the questions: is animal testing effective and does it save lives?
The technical term for animal testing is “vivisection.” Vivisection is the act of cutting, drugging, burning, blinding, shocking, addicting, shooting, freezing, infecting, and surgically mutilating live animals–this includes dissecting animals while they are fully conscious.
Within the animal testing debate, there are some forms of experimentation that the majority people can easily deem unnecessary. This includes tests that evaluate the toxicity of consumer products and their ingredients. It’s not a surprise that most people can agree that spraying toxic cleaners and jabbing mascara into the eyes of bunnies to see if it’s a bad idea for humans to do so themselves, is rather stupid.
Where the line of cruelty vs. necessity starts to blur, however, is in the case of animal testing for medical advances. Torturing animals for lip gloss is one thing, but when we’re talking about possible cures for diseases, the line of acceptable evil begins to blur for many people.
So, what exactly happens in these medical experiments? Examples include the following:
- monkeys are addicted to drugs
- cats are deafened and have holes drilled into their skulls
- sheep and pigs have their skin burned off
- rats have their spinal cords crushed
- tiny mice are made to grow tumors nearly as large as their entire bodies
- kittens are purposefully blinded
- rats are made to suffer seizures
- dogs are intentionally poisoned with experimental drugs
- chimpanzees are infected with debilitating diseases
- rabbits have grotesque devices implanted into their bodies.
Certainly we wouldn’t be doing all of these horrific things if it wasn’t effective, right? I mean we have to be saving lives with these awful methods–otherwise there would be no reason.
On his website adaptt.org, Gary Yourofsky writes about speaking with veterinarians who believe that animal testing is beneficial to humans. He says,
I asked them, “when you were in vet school studying feline leukemia, which animal did you study upon?'” They all replied, “cats.” I asked them why they didn’t use dogs for feline leukemia research. They replied that studying dogs for feline leukemia didn’t make too much sense scientifically. I then asked why dogs, cats or any other animals are used for human leukemia research. Their silence exposed the scam.
In this very same article, Gary cites Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a trauma surgeon and one of the world’s greatest animal-rights activists. Dr. Vlasak actually performed vivisection in his training as a medical doctor, but is now passionately against it. In his own article, Dr. Vlasak says,
On a daily basis, animals are drowned, suffocated, and starved to death. They have their limbs severed and their organs crushed. They are burned, exposed to radiation, and used in experimental surgeries. They are shocked, raised in isolation, exposed to weapons of mass destruction, and rendered blind or paralyzed. They are given heart attacks, ulcers, paralysis, and seizures. They are forced to inhale tobacco smoke, drink alcohol, and ingest various drugs like heroin and cocaine.
In speaking about his introduction to the world of vivisection, Dr. Vlasak says,
I learned that 85% of all the data gathered from animal experiments was literally thrown away because it was of no use to anyone, human or nonhuman; never even published, much less used to help people. Almost all of the remainder of this data was never found useful for human healthcare. I learned that the 1[%] or 2% of data that was possibly, one day, maybe going to be useful in helping people, could have been obtained more accurately and cheaply using modern, progressive non-animal methods.
Drugs that may be effective in animals may not be effective or even safe in humans. But what about primates that share 99% of our DNA? According to The National Anti-Vivisection Society,
Because evolution, molecular biology, and genetics show that animals and humans differ in profoundly important ways, animal models will never be able to accurately recapitulate what happens in the human condition.
In fact, there are many examples of research derived from animal testing seriously harming humans, which I’ve covered in more depth in this post. To put it simply, when you need medical treatment, do you want something that works for you, or something that works for a completely different species?
Beyond the whole argument of whether it’s effective or ethical is the fact that there are alternatives to animal testing. One example is the use of human skin equivalents, which consist of normal human-derived skin cells that have been cultured to form a multi-layered model of human skin. I explore additional alternatives further in this post.
As you can see, taking ethics out of the entire equation of animal testing, all the research and evidence points to the fact that animal experimentation is simply not effective. Additionally, not only does it not save human lives, but actually harms them.
If animal testing were effective, one could not oppose on purely scientific grounds. However, because vivisection itself is faulty science, it can be opposed on ethical and scientific grounds. It simply doesn’t work.
Be sure to check out the rest of the animal testing series for more on the issue of animal research.
— Emily Moran Barwick