[Rachel Thresher | Contributing Writer]
“I am in favour of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being” – Abraham Lincoln.
Animal testing can be referenced back as early as the 12th Century, when the physician, Avenzoar, practiced dissection and introduced animal testing as a method of testing surgical procedures before applying them to human patients. In more recent times, animals are used to advance scientific understanding, as models to study disease, to develop and test potential forms of treatment, makeup, clothes, and for entertainment. Animal testing remains a very popular controversial issue.
The argument supporting animal testing takes the stand that human diseases exist in at least one other species, and many veterinary medicines are similar to those used on people. Just like humans, animals also suffer from diseases such as cancer, malaria, heart failure, asthma and arthritis. Since using animal testing, many illnesses have advanced towards finding cures or at least becoming more avoidable: ‘preventer’ and ‘reliever’ inhalers have been developed and now 1 in 10 children receive treatment for asthma; meningitis vaccines have meant that meningitis C is now rare in the UK; 8 out of 10 children diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia now survive for at least five years, whereas 25 years ago 7 out of 10 died within five years; and in 2009-2010 3,700 people received major organ transplants using procedures tested on animals.
As well as these results, animal testing is actually part of the UK law which states that any new drug must be tested on at least two different species of live mammal, one of which must be a large rodent, and the other a primate, excluding chimpanzees and other great apes.
On the other side of this argument is the cruelty-free and/or vegan approach against the use of animal testing. Master’s in Journalism and Media Communications student, Catie Allwright, says that “unless you’re actively trying to avoid animal testing, you’re probably buying into it”, and the issue has made her feel “frustrated to the point of rage”.
The Animals Act of 1986 states that no animal experiments may be conducted if there is a realistic alternative. Third-year Pharmacology student, Chris Donaldson, suggests that “new technologies are the way forward”. Many people share the common view that it is morally barbaric to test human needs on animals, particularly for vanity items such as makeup or clothing, when there are in fact many alternatives on the market. Donaldson also says that by using the “replacement, reduction and refinement” principle, animal testing may be replaced. The poor conditions and the rough treatment of these caged animals has more people searching for vegan alternatives everyday.
It has become a pop culture fandom to be against this type of animal treatment, shown through media such as Legally Blonde 2; a film based on the moral outrages of animal testing, and celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Usher, Woody Harrelson, Bill Clinton and Morrissey, who have all become vegans for the support of animals.
Overall, it is clear that there is a conflict of interest regarding the constant demands for new medicines and the moral obligations to other species of animals on this planet. Where do you stand?