In its 12,000 years of existence smallpox killed as many as half a billion people. In 1980 a vaccine was developed that wiped the disease out , in part due to animal testing. We humans have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to animal testing. This is true even now, with Covid-19 showing the vital importance of safe vaccines and the Covid-19 vaccine once again showing the importance of animal testing. However, there is another side to the story.
In recent years the medical industry and animal rights groups have called into question whether it is morally right to use animals for testing. Alternatives are being found again and again. The question becomes: is it still necessary to cause millions of animals such pain and suffering?
Arguments for animal testing:
A utilitarian approach can be taken to argue in favour of animal testing. If the overall amount of pleasure created is greater than the pain caused then an event can be seen as ethical according to utilitarianism. If the pain caused to the laboratory animals is outweighed by the pain avoided in the human species then the animal testing is justified. 7.4 million Americans  take insulin to treat diabetes every year. Without this medication diabetes can be fatal. In 1921 experiments performed on a dog were instrumental in the first medical application of insulin, just the following year that saved the life of a 14-year-old boy  dying of diabetes. The insulin used was extracted from an ox. Many would argue that these animals’ suffering was justified for saving the life of this boy alone, let alone the millions of people it saves each year across the globe.
Kantian Theory/Duty Ethics:
According to Kantian theory/duty ethics an act is ethical if it adheres to a certain moral principle. Professional codes of conduct and oaths are industry examples of this. The American Veterinarian’s Oath  reads: “…I solemnly swear to use my medical knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal[s] … and the advancement of medical knowledge.” Even though this oath mentions protecting animals where possible it states advancing medical knowledge too. In fact, both must be done first and foremost for the benefit of our human society. Therefore, animal testing is ethical according to duty ethics, even for a veterinarian.
Animal life vs Human life:
If animal testing were to stop, research speed would significantly slow down. Many companies’ efficiency in research is dependent on the fact they have the technology, knowledge and resources which support a research system based around animal testing. If there is no suitable alternative, companies would have to learn to adapt without it, which inevitably is going to slow down vital research towards cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease  and many more.
This then poses the question of which is more valuable, human life or animal life. By quantifying the amount of deaths caused from slower research and animals saved from not using animal testing, it is possible to value a human’s life with a specific number of animals. This means it is a conscious decision that we accept when saving “X” amount of animal lives, we are also going to kill “Y” number of people when we stop animal testing.
When we also consider 95% of all animals used in animal testing are rodents, rats and mice , it then becomes a question of: Is it fair to sacrifice a person’s life to save a few dozen rodents?
Reasons against animal testing:
Way back in 1876 an act preventing abuse of animals was formed in the UK . Nowadays, the animal welfare issue has been attracting more and more discussions. As harm to animals is considered to be ethically unaccepted in many cases, animals being treated as tools to obtain data in testing is believed to be cruel and unnecessary by many people, especially the animal-rights groups. Although the principle of 3Rs: Reduction, Refinement and Replacement has been applied in modern scientific research, test animals still have to feel pain, meet various states of poor welfare and even be killed through experiments. Over 70% of animals are not given pain-relieving drugs despite the procedures likely being painful, due to the high standard of experiment requirements. In 2018, 3.52 million procedures were placed on testing animals in the UK .
If animal testing were banned, alternative methods could be introduced. To a certain extent, traditional animal testing might have set the medical industry in its ways and slowed down the research on alternative testing methods. Indeed many alternative methods have been invented and validated. For example, the tissue engineering-based in vitro cell testing method, computer simulations, medical imaging, biomembrane and chemical detection systems and alternative organism methods . These methods would lead to much lower involvement of animals, and could be cheaper, faster and more accurate than animal tests.
Animal Lives Matter:
Studies  from over 10 years ago have examined the effectiveness of animal testing and found unsupportive results of the practice. Most of the testing data is not useful for developing potent drugs or medicine for humans which has several ethical implications from different viewpoints. Even from a viewpoint of a belief that animal exploitation is justified because other species suffering has less negative value than human suffering (e.g. speciesism) the practice can be deemed wasteful and misguided towards efforts to develop effective medicine. This argument further strengthens the view from the opposing camp.
Finally, let’s discuss the implications if the controversial claim that animal suffering and wellbeing is as valuable as humans’ is true. There are numerous studies  to support the claim that animals can even feel pain. Because of this it could be argued that testing on human volunteers would be a more ethical alternative since they can consent and understand the risk involved in trials.
To conclude, from the arguments above we are for animal testing.
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