Animal Testing is Unreasonable
Professor Charles R. Magel has stated, “Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction (“Animal Testing 101”).” Besides, in actuality, animals are not like us. Cohen (1986) agrees with this view, for he believes that animals cannot have rights as humans do seeing that animals do not understand the meaning of having rights. Hence, according to Cohen, it is morally OK to experiment on animals.
Apart from Cohen’s view, animals are not like us essentially because there are various biological dissimilarities between humans and animals, making it absolutely unreasonable to compare humans with animals. As an example, morphine is supposed to calm human beings, but it excites cats. Cortisone does not cause birth defects in humans; it only does so in mice. Penicillin can kill guinea pigs and hamsters, and aspirin can poison cats and cause fetal deformities in rats. Digitalis is used by human heart patients, but raises the blood pressure of dogs. Had we relied on the results of experiments conducted on animal subjects, we would not have discovered the benefits of penicillin to humans, nor the life saving value of digitalis to those people who are suffering from heart disease. We would never have known the common anesthetic we now know as chloroform either, seeing that it is toxic to dogs. Many steroids, adrenaline, insulin, and certain antibiotics are also harmful to animals albeit medically beneficial for mankind (“Animal Experimentation”). All the same, Cohen refuses to take this research into account when he claims that the benefits of animal experimentation outweigh its costs. Moreover, he believes that we should increase rather than decrease the use of animals in medical experimentation. Even so, his theory is incomplete given that it does not take modern scientific research into consideration.
Despite the research reports on the unreasonableness of animal experimentation, approximately one hundred and fifteen million animals are still being experimented on and later killed in the laboratories of U.S. experimenters year after year (“Animal Testing 101”). Of these animals, 2 to 4 million are being used in safety testing alone (“Animal Testing,” 2007). Yet, it is illogical for scientists to use animals for research that is meant to benefit mainly humans. I do not disagree with the fact that it is good for humans to know more about the animals who occupy the planet with them, just as it is good for us to know about the other planets of the solar system, the stars, the nebulas and dark matter in the cosmos. There are general benefits of knowledge realized by all those who possess it. In the past, animal experimentation has helped us to gain more knowledge. After all, it is through our failed research with drugs using animals that we have come to realize that animals differ from us biologically. Therefore, we should not move forward with such research. Human intelligence is to learn from our mistakes, even if a mistake is made only once. There is no reason to put animals to torture by giving them harmful medicines, later to discover that those medicines are actually beneficial for humans. Countless animals are abused in the laboratories of the experimenters. People that care about the animals complain to PETA about it continuously (“Animal Testing 101”). Yet, Cohen would disagree with the people who go to PETA with complaints. According to him, it is morally permissible to overlook animal pain.
When experimenters say that it is morally OK to experiment on animals because “animals are not like us,” I am reminded of those racists around the world who go on killing people that are not like themselves. Nevertheless, Cohen would argue that since speciesism is unlike racism, it is inappropriate to compare animal killing in the laboratory with racist killing. I believe that Cohen has no scientific evidence to support this view. Scientists are supposed to be some of the most intelligent people in the world. I believe that they should have understood by now that it is illogical to use animals for tests meant to benefit humans in the long run. I can only imagine how many drugs of benefit to humans scientists may be getting rid of because these drugs do not work on animals in the laboratories. Some of those drugs may cure AIDS or cancer. By determining that those drugs do not work on animals, scientists may very well be doing away with the idea of such drugs altogether. Cohen’s arguments are failing in such cases.
Scientists had been using rats for cancer research before it was reported in the year 1993 that using rats for cancer research is essentially pointless given that the gene repair system of rats makes them unusually susceptible to cancer. In other words, there are significant differences in the way the genes of rodents and humans are repaired (“Animal Experimentation”). Although this fact is out – I expect that scientists who give in to illogical theories may continue to use rats for cancer research. In point of fact, Cohen’s arguments are still believed by countless people. To stop the scientists from misplacing our valuable resources – finances, in addition to the ecological advantages of animals – I believe that the government should step forward and put an end to animal experimentation altogether. Animal testing is clearly unreasonable, and there is no reason to argue about it anymore.
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Animal Testing. (2007). The Human Society of the United States. Retrieved September 18, 2007,
Cohen, C. (1986). The case for the use of animals in biomedical research. The New England
Journal of Medicine and Surgery, (315).