Support for Animal Testing
Generally, the scientific community is strongly in favour of animal testing. They see humans are superior to animal life and this belief thus justifies the use of animals in testing. While animal suffering should be minimised, they also cite that it is preferable for an animal to suffer as opposed to a human. The medical breakthroughs that have occurred as a result of animal testing are also considered reason enough to continue the practice, with the aim of reducing human suffering and saving human lives. Ultimately, supporters believe that the end result of saved lives justifies the means of using animal testing.
Support is also geared at protecting humans, not simply producing new life-saving drugs - although this is seen as a priority. Military defence involves animal testing to simulate battle wounds and gauge reactions to exposures of agents used in war. Animal testing is an important part of preventing a widespread disaster if chemical agents are released by another country.
As a result of the controversy with animal testing, however, more media attention has occurred in terms of animal care in animal testing facilities. Regulations and laws in Britain are some of the strictest in the world and the transparency that exists is a positive step for both animal testing supporters and those who are against it.
Ethical Issues With Animal Testing
One key argument against animal testing involves the inability of animals to consent to the tests. Humans, it is argued, can make an informed decision to consent while animals have tests forced upon them, with no choice.
A major ethical issue with animal testing is that it involves pain, suffering and discomfort under some circumstances. While researchers do address the potential for pain by measures to minimise it whenever possible, they aren't able to completely prevent any pain from occurring. Where possible, they will use anaesthetic but for some types of testing, using a pain reliever can mean an interaction with the drug being tested. For this reason, animals must experience the effects of the one drug and if it involves pain, this presents an unfortunate conundrum for researchers.
Another qualm with animal testing is its use for cosmetics testing. While Britain has banned animal testing on cosmetics and Europe is poised for a ban by 2009, other countries still use animals for cosmetics testing. Those who oppose the practice believe it is outrageous and cruel to use animal life simply so humans can 'look better.' The aesthetic component is a major issue and some individuals support animal testing for medical purposes but not for cosmetics.
Isolated cases of abuse have also added more fuel to the case against animal testing although reaction from the scientific community was similarly swift and indicated that such abuses will not be tolerated.
Making a Decision
Despite having a look at both sides involved in the controversy of animal testing, there is still no clear right or wrong that seems to appease everyone. One thing, however, appears to be unanimous - that at the very least, animal suffering should be minimised and that animals should be respected during their care. If animal testing is to continue - and at present it is ongoing - animals must not be abused.