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Animal Rights Essay, Research Paper

For the past 20 years, there has a been an on going heated debate on whether experiments on animals for the benefit of medical and scientific research is ethical. Whether it is or isn’t, most people believe that some form of cost-benefit test should be performed to determine if the action is right. The costs include: animal pain, distress and death where the benefits include the collection of new knowledge or the development of new medical therapies for humans. Looking into these different aspects of the experimentation, there is a large gap for argument between the different scientists’ views. In the next few paragraphs, both sides of the argument will be expressed by the supporters. A well known scientist named Neal D. Barnard said,” The use of animals for research and testing is only one of many investigative techniques available. We believe that although animal experiments are sometimes intellectually seductive, they are poorly suited to addressing the urgent health problems of our era, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, AIDS and birth defects.” He goes on further to say that animal experiments can not only mislead researchers but even contribute to illnesses or deaths by failing to predict any toxic effect on drugs. The majority of animals in laboratories are used for genetic manipulation, surgical intervention or injection of foreign substances. Researchers produce solutions from these animal “models” and are adapting them to human conditions. Unfortunately, these animal “models” can’t always be connected with the human body thus creating problems. Many times, researchers induce strokes on animals in order to test certain methods for curing. The downfall of this procedure is that a healthy animal that experiences a sudden stroke does not undergo the slowly progressive arterial damage that usually plays a crucial role in human strokes. In another illustration of the inaccuracy of animal research, scientists in the 1960s deduced from many animal experiments that inhaled tobacco smoke did not cause lung cancer. For many years afterward, the tobacco industry was able to use these studies to delay government warnings and to discourage physicians from intervening in their patients’ smoking habits. We all know now that this is totally untrue and that smoking is a large contributor to cancer. It turns out that cancer research is especially sensitive to differences in physiology between humans and other animals. Many animals, particularly rats and mice, synthesize within their bodies approximately 100 times the recommended daily allowance for humans of vitamin C, which is believed to help the body ward off cancer. The stress of handling, confinement and isolation alters the animal’s mental stability and introduces yet another experimental variable that makes any results from testing even less valuable to human helping. In many cases, drugs and other substances are given to the test animals but studies have shown considerable differences in the effects of these drugs on different species. David Salsburg of Pfizer Central Research has noted that of 19 chemicals known to cause cancer in humans when ingested, only seven caused cancer in mice and rats using the standards set by the National Cancer Institute. This justifies that many substances that appeared safe in animal studies and received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in humans later proved dangerous to people. The drug milrinone, which raises cardiac output, increased survival of rats with artificially induced heart failure; humans with severe chronic heart failure taking this drug had a 30 percent increase in fatalities. Also, the antiviral drug fialuridine seemed safe in animal trials yet caused liver failure in seven of 15 humans taking the drug (five of these patients died as a result of the medication, and the other two received liver transplants). Scientists and the populous that do not agree with the experimentation of animals believe in different methods. These techniques include epidemiological studies, clinical intervention trials, astute clinical observation aided by laboratory testing, human tissue and cell cultures, autopsy studies, endoscopic examination and biopsy, as well as new imaging methods. In the last decade, scientists with these views have learned to respect the animals for their own species observations and for their ability to communicate. On the reverse aspect, many scientists are firm believers of animal research. This group believes that experiments using animal have played a crucial role in the development of modern medical treatments, and they will continue to be necessary as researchers seek to cure existing illnesses and respond to the emergence of new diseases. Because of his knowledge of how contaminants caused wine and beer to spoil, Pasteur became convinced that microorganisms were also responsible for diseases such as chicken cholera and anthrax. To test his hypothesis, Pasteur examined the contents of the guts of chickens suffering from cholera; he separated a possible infected microbe and then grew the organism in culture. Samples of the culture given to healthy chicken and rabbits produced cholera, thus proving that Pasteur had correctly identified the offending organism. In similar studies on rabbits and guinea pigs, Pasteur isolated the microbe that causes anthrax and then developed a vaccine against the deadly disease. With the information from animal experiments, he proved no only that infectious diseases could be produced by microorganisms but also that immunization could protect against the diseases. Following the work of Pasteur and others, scientist have established causes of and vaccines for dozens of infectious diseases, including: diphtheria, tetanus, rabies, whooping cough, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps and rubella. Research on animals has been vital to numerous other areas in medicine. Open heart surgery, for example, which saves the lives of an estimated 440,000 people every year in the U.S. alone, is now routine thanks 20 years of animal research. The replacement of heart valves also emerged through the extraction of and study of animal arteries. When it comes down to it, there are no basic differences between the physiology of laboratory animals and humans. Both control their internal biochemistry by releasing endocrine hormones that are all essentially the same; both humans and animals send out similar chemical transmitters from nerve cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems, and both react in the same way to infection or tissue injury. Whether the process of experimenting on laboratory animals is right or wrong is an ongoing dispute between the scientific community. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument and who is to decide whether it should go on? I feel that animals were put on this earth for many reasons. One of those reasons may be for the research of medical experimentation and because the human race chose to take this idea in perspective, millions of people’s lives have been saved. But that doesn’t mean that if scientists hadn’t started experimenting on animals that they wouldn’t have found another way more superior to solve these problems.

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