Animal testing, here defined as the use of animals in research to address human concerns such as drug efficacy and the safety of goods like cosmetics, is a contentious enterprise that is rife with ethical dilemmas but there are pros and cons of animal testing which we need to consider.
Humankind benefits from animal research blatantly and unmistakably, such as the creation of medicines to treat fatal diseases.
In addition, some forms of testing subject animals to cruel practices, negating any positive effects on humans, in the opinion of those who oppose animal testing.
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What is Animal Testing?
The term “animal testing” refers to procedures carried out on living animals for research into basic biology and diseases, evaluating the efficacy of new pharmaceuticals, and testing the safety of consumer and industry products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals, and industrial/agrochemicals for human health and/or the environment.
All surgeries, even those deemed to be “mild,” have the potential to inflict the animal’s pain and suffering on both a physical and emotional level. The operations frequently lead to a lot of pain. Most animals are killed after an experiment, although some might be used again.
- Giving animals potentially dangerous drugs by injection or force-feeding them is one type of animal experiment.
- Surgically removing an animal’s organs or tissues with the intent to harm it
- Exposing animals to poisonous gasses
- Placing animals in frightful conditions induces anxiety and sadness.
In some tests, the animal must pass away to do the test. In the harsh Lethal Dose 50 test, 50% of the animals die or are murdered shortly before the point of death, for instance, regulatory tests for botox, vaccinations, and various tests for chemical safety are essentially versions of this procedure.
Pros and Cons of Animal Testing
The following are the pros and cons of animal testing, we will look at the pros of animal testing first
Pros: Medications and vaccines that save lives
Without animal testing, the landscape of modern medicine would undoubtedly be very different. For instance, the discovery of insulin in the early 20th century was the result of studies on dogs in which the animals’ pancreas were removed; this has helped millions of diabetics throughout the world by saving and improving their lives.
The polio vaccine, which was only made for human use after being tested on animals, has contributed to the near eradication of this feared illness.
Animal testing has directly contributed to advancements in the treatment of diseases such as breast cancer, brain injury, leukemia, cystic fibrosis, malaria, multiple sclerosis, and tuberculosis. Without chimpanzee testing, there would be no hepatitis B vaccine.
Pros: Offers a sufficient living, whole-body test subject.
Animals have the closest anatomical structure to that of humans or any other living species on this planet. Cell cultures in a petri dish cannot sufficiently evaluate a human body’s complexity or demonstrate the efficacy of a treatment or product.
For example, a vascular system that will deliver the medicine to various organs is necessary when testing a drug for side effects. The endocrine, immunological, and central nervous systems, which both humans and animals have, are necessary for studying connected processes. What about the application of digital models? They would need precise data acquired from animal experiments.
Pros: In many ways, humans and animals are very similar.
While mice’s genetic makeup is 98% similar to that of humans, chimpanzees share 99% of our DNA. Animals and humans share the same set of organs, blood vessels, and central nervous systems, making them biologically comparable and causing them to be susceptible to the same illnesses. In light of these facts, experimentation on animals is acceptable as a subject for research.
Pros: Offers a moral substitute for testing
Most people would agree that using humans for intrusive experimental procedures is unethical, especially when it has the potential to be fatal.
Testing medications for adverse effects or probable toxicity must not threaten the life of human test subjects. When a genetic alteration is involved, ethical considerations must also be taken into account.
According to the Declaration of Helsinki of the World Medical Association, animal experimentation must come before human trials. But if animals could speak, they probably would demand the same moral standards.
Pros: Provide advantages to animals directly
Animal experimentation is advantageous for both humans and animals. Many of them may have perished from diseases including rabies, infectious hepatitis virus, anthrax, feline leukemia, and canine influenza if the vaccines hadn’t been tested on them.
Aside from glaucoma and hip dysplasia, animal experimentation has also led to the discovery of treatments.
The fact that vivisection prevented the extinction of endangered species like the California condor, Brazilian tamarins, and the black-footed ferret is the true highlight, though. For this reason, the American Veterinary Medical Association supports animal testing.
Pros: Permit researchers to observe a test subject throughout their entire life.
Humans have an average lifespan of 80 years or more, thus some scientists may not see the outcomes of their work.
Laboratory mice, however, only survive for two to three years, allowing scientists the chance to examine the impacts of genetic engineering or medical interventions throughout a lifetime.
They may be able to continue learning for numerous generations in some situations. Rats and mice have so been employed for extensive cancer research.
Pros: Animals are shielded from mistreatment and abuse.
Contrary to popular belief, animal research is strictly regulated, and animal protection regulations have been passed. The federal Animal Welfare Act has governed animal testing since 1966.
- Veterinarians must frequently check the animals and their living conditions to ensure that they adhere to minimal housing standards, such as the appropriate size enclosure, suitable temperature, access to clean food and water, etc.
- Each research facility will establish an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which shall have the authority to accept all applications for the use of animals in research and shall be responsible for the enforcement of the principles of the humane treatment of animals.
- The regulations on Human Care and the Use of Laboratory Animals enforced by the US Public Health Service (PHS) must be followed by research facilities receiving funding from PHS.
Pros: Fewer animals are used for research than for human consumption.
Fewer chickens, cattle, lambs, and pigs are utilized in experiments compared to the quantities that humans consume. It is a minor amount to pay when you take into account the medical improvement and progress that these tests gave. For instance, an equivalent of 340 is used in research for every chicken used as food.
Let’s now look at the cons of animal testing
Cons: Animal experiments that use cruel methods of treatment
Any discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of animal testing must note that certain studies on animals involve torturing the subjects in ways that are akin to torture.
According to the Humane Society International, animals are frequently burned, physically restrained for extended periods, denied food and water, force-fed, made to inhale toxic substances, and some of them even have their necks snapped and decapitated.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture claimed in 2010 that about 100,000 animals went through painful studies without receiving any anesthetic. In the course of testing cosmetics items, it is also common practice to hold animals’ eyes wide with clips for hours or even days at a time.
Cons: Pets are inadequate to test subjects.
Due to the numerous metabolic, molecular, and anatomical distinctions between the two species, this assertion directly contradicts what supporters think about how physically and biologically similar animals and humans are.
Thomas Hartung, a professor of evidence-based toxicology at Johns Hopkins University, argues that using rats as a model for toxicity is unreliable because people are not even close to being 70 kg rats.
This is further confirmed by a 2013 study published in the Archives of Toxicology, which claims that the value of research data is in doubt because there is no direct comparison of human data with that of a mouse.
Cons: The safety of humans cannot be determined by the outcome of animal experiments.
In tests on pregnant rats, mice, cats, and guinea pigs, the sleeping medication thalidomide did not cause any birth malformations until it was given in extremely high dosages. However, when it was used by expectant mothers, 10,000 babies were born with serious abnormalities.
- Vioxx is an anti-arthritis medication that worked wonders on animals but is terrible for humans since it resulted in more than 20,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.
- One hundred of the stroke medications worked on animals but were utter failures in people.
- Over 85 HIV vaccines were successful in primates but ineffective in humans
Cons: Can result in inaccurate research
Some medications and goods that are bad for animals are beneficial to people. For instance, aspirin was nearly discontinued because it was found to be harmful to animals.
Imagine what would have occurred if aspirin had been completely removed from the list of approved medications. There was no technique to reduce the possibility of an organ transplant being rejected.
Cons: The Animal Welfare Act does not safeguard the majority of animals employed in testing and research (AWA)
Only about 1 million animals are protected under the AWA as of 2010, leaving about 25 million more vulnerable to neglect and abuse. These include mice, rats, fish, and birds.
Animal subjects are even more at risk of being treated like inmates in a hospital for the entirety of their lives since vivisections performed inside laboratory walls are governed by a committee that the facility itself chose.
A very strong illustration of a blatant AWA violation was found in the New Iberia Research Center, a federally financed facility in Louisiana (NIRC). The animals turned to self-mutilation because they were under such intense psychological strain.
The remaining 337 infractions by NIRC were documented on camera, which revealed the appalling conditions in which the animals were kept. However, this facility is merely one of many that do so.
Cons: Animal experiments can be replaced with less expensive methods
Contrary to what supporters claim, in vitro (in glass) tests and cell cultures in Petri dishes are not entirely ineffective or inadequate. Even more pertinent results than those of animal testing can be obtained from them. The same holds if fake human skin rather than animal skin is used as the test subject.
There is no need to poison animals to gather data and make conclusions because virtual reconstructions of human molecular structures made using computer models may also estimate toxicity levels of chemicals.
Microdosing, or giving small dosages to humans to test for negative reactions, is an additional option. Results will be obtained in conjunction with blood analysis.
However, the fact that these alternatives are less expensive than animal experimentation is what matters most. For instance, glass testing only costs $11,000, which is far less than the $21,000 cost of an “unscheduled DNA synthesis”.
It costs $1,300 to do a phototoxicity test without using rats, which is almost $10,000 less than an animal-based test. These merely serve to demonstrate how much money spent on research is being wasted on animal testing.
Cons: Numerous animal lives are lost.
There are a large number of animal lives that are spent for nothing when you take into account all the unsuccessful tests as well as other non-experimental elements that have an impact on animals.
During the experiment, they suffer or die, and they continue to suffer after the experiment. However, what is truly cruel and immoral are the subpar research practices employed by some facilities.
A 2009 peer-reviewed study revealed significant faults in numerous rodent-based studies undertaken in the UK and the US. Although blinding and randomization techniques were applied, correct animal selection still failed because of selection bias. Additionally, the study’s hypothesis or purpose is lacking.
Cons: Animals are not always necessary for medical advancements
Is using animals in experiments truly required to find treatments and cures? Its detractors claim that there isn’t any solid proof of its significance in important medical advancements. If funding and efforts are concentrated on animal-free substitutes, more affordable, moral, and humane options.
The microfluidic chip, commonly referred to as organs on a chip, is one such option that needs full support. In this, chips are used to perform bodily functions like mixing, pumping, and sorting.
The chips function similarly to human organs since they are lined with human cells. With this solution, scientists are no longer able to claim that they require a living, whole-body system to conduct studies.
There are many concerns about the practice of animal testing since the 20th century and from the above, we have been able to know some of the reasons why animal testing has been a concern. But another thing to know here is that animal testing can bring about epidemics and pandemics which we have seen with Covid-19 and Ebola. This talks more about a more serious matter, Environmental health.
16 Pros and Cons of Animal Testing – FAQs
Is animal testing entirely bad?
Animal Testing would be dangerous for Nonhuman Organisms. This toxicity test has the potential to cause death, blindness, and scarring. Along with the LD50 test, it is one of the most widely used toxicity tests. Both are notorious for the excruciating suffering they subject their victims through.
Why do we test on animals instead of humans?
Society considers it unethical to use newly developed medications or surgical procedures on humans first because there is a chance they will do more damage than good. Instead, animal testing is done to ensure the safety and efficacy of the drug or treatment.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.