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Use of animals in research

Useof animals in research


Throughouthistory, live animals have been used in biomedical research,education and product testing. However, the use of animals inscientific research has been controversial since the late 19thcentury. This is because many researchers and animal activists claimthat the level of hostility to animal experimentation has increasedover the course of the 20th century. According to Conn (p.9), the useof animals in scientific research traces back to the 2nd century AD,and was first carried out by Galen, a Greek physician andphilosopher. Conn adds that Galen’s research was exclusively onstudies using apes and pigs, but it initiated many errors and laterprohibited by the church. It was not until the 17th century that hiserror began to be recognized. Research including Francois Magendie,Claude Bernard, Louis Pasteur, and Robert Koch advanced these studiesthrough the use of animal subjects for medical&nbspdevelopment inscreening,&nbspinfectious diseases, and the evaluation of newantibacterial drugs (Conn, 9).

Inthe early 19th century, animal studies became crucial because of themajor advances that had occurred. As the major contributors in animalstudies, Bernard, Pasteur and Koch made more discoveries more thanhalf of the significant discoveries made thereafter. Today,scientists continued to rely on the identifications made by the pastresearcher in the development of animal models to explore all avenuesof medical science. These researchers perform experiments on animalsto obtain knowledge on animal and human biological structure andfunction. In many cases, animals are used because it is not possibleto conduct these studies on humans. Often this may not only be due toreligious or ethical considerations, but often scientific reasonsmake initial studies in animals the best solution for studies of abiological phenomenon.

Relevanceof use of animal in research

Theapproval of the use of animal models in science, and in particularbiomedical research, should not be taken for granted. Publiccontroversy regarding animal experimentation has led to intensedebates due to many ethical issues born in this practice. However,today, majority of lay people and researchers have accepted animaluse as being necessary to the advancement of useful knowledge thatbring relief from suffering. Many people have gained a clearunderstanding of why these animal models are relevant. The use animalmodel is scientific and is more likely to remain necessary until anequally sound alternative in science is developed. For this reason,defenders of animal experimentation argue in favor the importance ofanimal&nbspexperimentation observed in to both animals and humans.Furthermore, Hau and Schapiro (p.25) point out that the applicationof the utilitarian approach suggests that the considerable benefitsattained through animal experimentation is vital as it outweighs thecost in terms of animal pain and distress.

Researchershave rightfully pointed out most of the animal experimentations mayaccurately mimic conditions found in human beings. Therefore, furtherresearch is performed primarily to advance basic knowledge, which isvital for medical treatment. Many arguments in favor of animalexperimentation hold that use of animal in research has advancedunderstanding of biological, behavioral, and chemical processes thatprovide direct application for medical treatment. For this reason,they view animal research and crucial to the development humanmedicine, as we are guaranteed safety from potentially dangerousproducts. Proponents of animal research view this as the best optionfor human medical progress, and consider it far better than usingnon-living models. These proponents in favor of animal research agreethat it is unfortunate that animals have to suffer, but it isappropriate if it means advancement in science and the emergence ofnew cures for deadly diseases such as cancer. Because it helpspeople, they agree with the exercise.

Thealternative use of animals in research is considered the best methodcurrently available. According to Shanks (p.339) procedures such asbiochemical and radioimmunology among others have replaced vivo testsin some instances. Shanks add that the goal of developing theseprocedures was to provide the cheapest, fastest and most reliable andsimplest test. As a result, animal testing is considered cheap,reliable, and it is as sensitive as required. Advocates of animaltests, thus, say that the tests are the most suitable way ofprotecting people from the dangers of the new substance in theenvironment. In addition, the urge that people should not wait for orseek after absolute truth because experiments in humans are ethicallyand socially unacceptable. Instead, they should heed warningsprovided by animal tests, which are reliable alternative sources ofinformation from which potential risks have been assessed byscientists.

Althoughthe purpose of most animal experiments is their potential benefit forhumans, animals also benefit from these experimentations. Use ofanimals has helped veterinary understand various animal diseases andtheir possible treatments. Much insight underlying veterinarymedicine has been derived from experiments on animals. For instance,when pets like a cat receives a vaccine, its benefits from immunologyresearch done on other cats, even when the primary purpose of todevelop treatment for humans. Thus, it is crucial to take intoaccount the relevance of animal treatment that is obtained bysacrificing some of the animals.

Ethicsin animal research

Animalrightists and activists believe moral confer rights, and thus,animals have rights and should receive proper treatment (Suckow,Douglas and Weichbrod 99). From this belief, these activists holdthat human beings have a moral obligation towards animal becauseanimals have rights. For this reason, many human activistsparticipated in fleeing laboratory animals and destroying researchrecords, materials and equipments while protesting against theimmoral use of animals. Suckow et al adds that Animal Welfareorganizations have enlisted volunteers to penetrate institute, spy onresearchers and uncover cases of animal abuses because it isunethical and against animal rights. However, research instituteshave responded to this threat by maintaining scientific ethicalprinciple, as well as, tightening their security measures.

Whilescientists are aware of the differences between rodents or otheranimals used in the research, they maintain that the differences arefar outweighed by the similarities to human responses. However, somestudies point out that animal experiments used for animal medicinemay be greatly over-estimated. From a critical analysis, it has beenobserved that some animal experimentations lead to disturbingconclusions. As a result, ethical and responsible research testinghas been emphasized in order to avoid errors of wrong prescriptionand diagnosis.

Theuse of animal as research subjects has raised several ethicalquestions, with opponents claiming that it subjects animals tosuffering. Although proponents urge that animals help to answerquestions that would be impossible to answer by using human beings,opponents view this as mistreatment of animals. They claim that theexperimentation inflict pain and suffering to the animals. Certainly,this is true, but there are ethical standards, which exists in allscientific disciplines that are concerned with the proscription onundue pain and inhumane treatment (Kantowitz, Roediger and Elmes,90). The scientific ethical principals ensure that no ethicalpsychologists deliberately inflict undue hard on an animal. For thisreason, pain and suffering are only inflicted only after considerabledeliberation by the scientist and the appropriate ethics reviewboard. According to Kantowitz et al, such deliberations usually weighthe suffering of the animal against the potential benefit of theexperiment. In this case, the animal is subjected to pain andsuffering only if the benefit far exceeds the harm in the experiment.


Thesupport of responsible use of animals in research investigations andin science education should be emphasized. Researchers urge that theuse of animal in research has been relevant for advances in sciencesand medicine, resulting to enormous benefits to human welfare andhealth. Given the continued world health problems, the use of animalsin their experimentation is perceived necessary for future progress.On the other hand, animal activists are committed to placing severerestrictions on animal experimentations or abolishing it completely.However, the public should understand that animal based research isjust another way of making use of animals. A majority of domesticanimals are usually kept for food, and under restrictive conditions,which thwart their behavioral and physiological needs. Similarly,keeping animals under restrictive condition with the aim of foodproduction can considerable cause animal distress. Therefore, giventhe need for development in medical treatment, the amount of distressexperienced by animals should be outweighed against the possiblebenefits to animals and humans obtained by carrying out the research.


Conn,Michael. Sourcebookof Models for Biomedical Research.Totowa, N.J.: Springer, 2008. Print.

Hau,Jann. Handbookof laboratory animal science.Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2011. Print.

Kantowitz,Barry H., Henry L. Roediger, and David G. Elmes. Experimentalpsychology.9th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Shanks,Niall. Animalsand Science: A Guide to the Debates.Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2002. Print.

Suckow,Mark A., Fred A. Douglas, and Robert H. Weichbrod. Managementof laboratory animal care and use programs.Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2002. Print.