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Animal Rights Essay, Research Paper

Animal Rights

The 20th century has had more medical breakthroughs than any other hundred years in history. But there is a price. No significant discovery in this time has occurred without the use of animals in biological research experiments. Heart surgery, polio, osteoporosis, diabetes, AIDS, and cancer have all had significant breakthroughs thanks to these experiments(McCarty 15).

The use of animals in today’s world is highly controversial. Our society eats animals and their products, wears them, uses them for entertainment, and kills some species, such as rats and mice for being a nuisance. In a society which uses animals in all these different ways, it is ethical to use animals in medical research. Many medical advances rely heavily upon animal work such as the development of insulin for people with diabetes, transplants, blood transfusions, anesthetics and vaccines.

Although all modern medicine rests in part on animal studies, its major work is on cell and tissue culture, computer models, studies of healthy human volunteers, hospital patients in clinical trials, and the analysis of large populations. Only 2-3% of medical charity research funds are spent on animals, their food, care and welfare, and the vets and technicians to look after them(McCarty 17). Even though the direct cost of the animals is small, around 20% of all projects will involve an element of animal studies in amongst the other research techniques. When animals are used in research there are strict regulations to ensure a minimum of pain and suffering for the subjects(UNMC). Ultimately our overall understanding of diseases rests heavily upon studies of living systems, including animals. In the fight to save human lives, animals are vital.

The Hot Zone reveals that animal research inadvertently led to an outbreak of Ebola near Washington DC. But this is a unique case where research has harmed humankind. The U.S. has recognized the importance of animal research and were it not for the Animals (Scientific) Research Act of 1986 most scientists would have been charged with cruelty to animals by now. Because of these laws new drugs are tested on approximately 1,000 animals before they can be released on the market(McCarty 81). This law would not exist if government officials thought these experiments would harm their citizens. In fact due to animal research the human life-span has been increased by an average of 28 years(McCarty 15).

Though animal research has benefited millions of people world-wide it has its detractors. Hollywood celebrities are using their free time to pose naked for billboards. To protest the use of animals in their make up and garment’s creation PETA organizes protest marches and other more extreme groups preach of “Specieism.” While these events look good for public exposure and no one likes to see innocent creatures harmed for no reason, the fact remains that animal research saves lives. Animal research must continue if we wish to combat the various diseases which plague us today.

McNeill, William H. Plagues and Peoples. Garden City, New York: Anchor

Press/Doubleday, 1976.

Preston, Richard. The Hot Zone. New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1994.

McCarty, Jonothan P. Medical Research and Issues, New York, New York

Anderson/Wheeler, 1990

UNMC/UNO Code of Ethics for the Care and Use of Animals. UNMC. 17 April

1999 http://www.unmc.edu/Education/Animal/codeeth.htm

Animal Experimentation. Christian Medical Fellowship. 17 April 1999


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