Many caring and concerned individuals both from the medical and local communities are asking if animal experimentation is beneficial to human health and medical research. (Ruesch 36) Because animal experimentation focuses on artificially inducing disease in perfectly healthy animals, and is undermined by the vast differences of non-human-animals versus humans anatomically, physiologically and pathologically, "it is inherently an unsound way to investigate the human disease process" (MMC 1)
Approximately two hundred years ago the practice of vivisection began when religious leaders prohibited the dissection of human corpses. When this taboo was lifted, animals were continued to be used since the idea had become so entrenched in the minds of researchers.(Kupsinel 2) Every year in America, over 100 million animals are used for experiments. Their use is currently increasing every year worldwide by 6%.(Kupsinel 2)
Vivisectors would like to reject the charges that their driving motives are avarice, ambition, or sadism disguised as scientific curiosity. On the contrary, they present themselves as altruists who are entirely dedicated to the benefit of mankind. (Ruesch 6) Intelligent and historical humanitarians such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Voltaire, Goethe and Schweitzer "have passionately declared that species worth saving through such barbaric means isn't worth saving at all." (Ruesch 6) There is presently crushing evidence which proves that this dehumanizing and inhumane practices have grievously damaged true science and the health of humanity at large. (Ruesch 6)
Contrary to popular belief, the use of animals in experimentation is not needed, in fact such practices can be detrimental to human health. In comparing the physiology of a rat to that of a human, we see many biological differences: mice live for 3 years and require massive doses of drugs (more than humans will ever use) before an over-dose occurs, they have very different bodily functions and get cancer for different reasons than human would. These differences between a rat and a human prove that it is unreliable and misleading to extrapolate results from rats onto people. When a non-human animal is treated for a disease or a drug, the results can vary dramatically. Some of the differences occur also in how an animal and a human react to different drugs. Aspirin, Tylenol, Dristan and Advil have produced severe reactions in animals, but do not produce such results in humans. (Kupsinel 1) Many people believe that drugs tested on animals are proven to be safe, and therefore are safe on humans. These individuals are unfortunately unaware that arsenic has been found safe for sheep, cyanide safe for chickens, and poisonous mushrooms safe for rabbits. If these results had been extrapolated to humans, the effect on our population could have been devastating. For this reason over 52% of all drugs (AAVS Website) that enter the market have to be re-labeled or pulled off the shelf due to harmful side effects in humans. Even then, over 2 million people suffer severe side-effects. Additionally, the number four killer in America is drugs which have been found safe for animals, but have killed over 100,000 people every year. (PETA Website)
The U.S. has been experimenting on animals for over 200 years, and is 20th in infant mortality rate and 19th in life expectancy. The standard of living has improved, not due to animal research but due to changes in our environment, life style and hygiene. (AAVS Website) Cancer rates continue to rise as we spend billions of dollars on finding cures; the World Health Organization says that 90% of all cancers are preventable with lifestyle changes, yet the Cancer Institutes spends less than 1% on prevention tactics and programs. (Cruelty- Free Charities brochure)
While the Cancer Institutes spend little money on prevention, $5 billion of taxpayers money funds general animal research. There should be a redistribution of this money, from the hands of animal vivisectors into the hands of caring health professionals who see the value in education and prevention. Money is being misdirected, while drug treatment centers, community clinics, trauma units and prenatal centers are being shut down for lack of funds. (PETA Website)
Beside the scientific arguments, ethical reasons for adopting human scientific practices exist. Animals experience much pain throughout their captive lives. When tested on, they may be forced to inhale harmful gases, have harsh chemicals dripped into their eyes, or have irritating substances rubbed on their raw skins.(PETA Website). Animals suffer tremendously, and are rarely given anasethics or pain killers. Many times they are put into restraining devices and cannot escape the pain. (PETA Website).
There is much commotion in the medical community now about the sanity of vivisection. As Dr. E.D Marshall has pointed out in the Journal of the American Medical Association:
Even when a drug has been subjected to a complete and adequate pharmacological investigation on several species of animals and found to be relatively non- toxic, it is frequently found that such a drug may show unexpected toxic reactions in diseased human beings. This has been known almost since the birth of scientific pharmacology. (Kupsinel 3)
Also, Dr. Paquet, formerly doctor-inspector of the Enfants Assiste de la Seine has this to say about animal testing:
Vivisection is useless for the study of medical science. It is also useless for the study of physiology, for, if we are today cognizant of the functions of the organs, it is through having treated them when injured. In order to study the action of medicinal matters, would it for a moment enter into the head of a serious practitioner to imagine that what passes in the body of a healthy animal would be the same as in that of a sick person.? (Kupsinel 3)
Many alternatives to animal experimentation are available. Numerous technologies have been discovered where animals are not being used. Scientists are finding that these tests are efficient, effective, and cheap compared to animal studies, which can take years of testing, hence costing taxpayers millions of dollars. (MMC 9)
As times change, many more non-animal technologies come in to the market. Of the many alternatives, a few include; non-invasive electronic scanning such as CAT, MRI, PET and SPECT scans, which have revolutionized clinical investigations. (MMC 9) These devices allow for the study on ongoing human diseases in human patients, rendering the use of animals obsolete. For instance, these scans have helped early diagnosis and knowledge of Alzheimer's disease, Huntington?s disease, and musculokeletal tumors; and have contributed much to knowledge in basic science.( MMC 9) Another powerful tool is in-vitro cell and tissue cultures, which are beginning to replace mice in testing for carcinogenic substances. The results are cheaper, and more effective and more accurate. (Jasper and Nelkin 103) A third method is the use of mathematical models using human clinical and epidemiological data to generate and test hypotheses on various disease. (MMC 9) These new methodologies and many others are becoming more and more available to the medical community to help replace animal testing.
The value of animal experimentation has been grossly exaggerated by the scientific community which has financial and other vested interests in it?s preservation. The billions of dollars spent yearly on animal research would be better spent humane, effective and efficient use if the funds are redirected to human studies through the vast alternative technologies, clinical studies and public education on prevention tactics. If only humane science is embraced, healthy solutions beyond the dreams of the vivisection community, are a realistic possibility.
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