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UK legislation requires that researchers refine their procedures to keep suffering to the minimum, ensure the number of animals is reduced to the minimum required for meaningful results, and seek to replace the use of animals with non-animal alternatives where appropriate" (the Royal Society, 2004). This argument is valid from the point-of-view of the necessity of animal testing. The attempts to reduce the pain and discomfort of animals are significant for their added value to science. That is to say that even the research conducted to limit the discomfort can provide important information for scientists.
Some of the most common animals on which tests are being conducted are the monkeys that are considered to be relatively close in terms of structure and behavior to humans. Therefore, the question is often related to the ethical and moral nature of testing on monkeys. However, in terms of the added value provided by the information retrieved from tests, a cure for the Parkinson disease for instance was developed as a result of such tests (Ringach, 2011). As per the Americans for Medical Progress, "In the past few years, Parkinson's research has advanced to the point that halting disease progression and even preventing Parkinson's are considered realistic goals" (2012)
Depending on the type of animals used for laboratory testing, the advantages for this practice are varied. The major convenient for animal testing is related to the short life span of the animals. More precisely, "Rodents are the animal model of choice for modern medical researchers because they have a naturally short life span -- two to three years -- that allows scientists to observe in "fast forward" what happens during the progress or pathogenesis of a disease."(Trull, n.d.) This comes to point out that laboratory testing on animals do not necessarily imply or aim for short-term effects and conclusions, but rather they try to follow long-term effects that can afterwards be described and adjusted to human beings. The short life span of animals used for such testing ensures that medicine advances at a faster pace largely because it allows the possibility to observe immediate results as opposed to less painful yet longer in terms of duration for conclusions on certain tests.
The discussion over the moral nature of animal testing goes even further to stress that under certain conditions more analysis must be conducted in order to fully address all moral dilemmas. For instance, "consider a patient with severe aortic stenosis, which has a mortality rate of approximately 75% 5 years after diagnosis. The patient's life can be saved by replacing the valve in his heart with one from a pig. Is it morally permissible to carry out such a procedure? In some respects, we are facing a burning house scenario: it is either a pig or a human. Those that consider the moral status of the pig equal to that of the patient must effectively condemn the patient to death for the same reasons we would not take the heart valve of another human as a replacement" (Ringach, 2011). Therefore, the argument of equality between a human being and an animal, which has been often suggested in this type of debates, opens the door for more thorough analysis on the actual situation of the animal. Although animals tend to share the same existence as human beings, in a situation of choice, most likely an animal would be sacrificed to save a human life. From this point-of-view, the argument of equality cannot be always defended.
Despite the constant arguments between the representatives of the medical world and the organizations and individuals defending animal rights, there are obvious reasons to consider that the results of animal testing have significantly improved human health and well-being. Although we live in an ever changing and developing world, there are few substitutes for animal testing particularly because this type of testing allows the medical world to experience in a short period of time, all the necessary effects and side effects of certain medical drugs being tested, fact which provides information in a more rapid way. On the other hand, the discomfort and pain experienced by the animals is not to be neglected. Even so, the medical advancements have enabled the human being to save lives that would have otherwise be lost.
AAVVS (2012) "Problems with animal research" Accessed 02 November 2012, from http://www.aavs.org/site/c.bkLTKfOSLhK6E/b.6456997/k.3D74/Problems_with_Animal_Research.htm
Americans for Medical Progress (2012). "Animal Research Means Medical Progress." Accessed 02 November 2012, from http://www.amprogress.org/animal-research-benefits
Ringach, D. (2011). "The Use of Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Research" the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Vol 342, No 4.
The Royal Society. (2004) "The use of non-human animals in research: a guide for scientists." Accessed 02 November, 2012 from http://royalsociety.org/policy/publications/2004/non-human-animals/
Trull, F. (n.d.) "Animal-test research has saved many human lives" Accessed 02 November…[continue]
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Animal research is a necessity today, and has afforded us the opportunity to create lifesaving drugs and vaccines, new surgical procedures and improved diagnosis of disease. Despite the bad press animal activists have given, institutions are given guidelines that guarantee the safe and ethical treatment of research animals. Most scientists agree that continued animal testing is essential to develop new vaccines and medicines, and that computer and mathematical models are
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