Nineteenth century physiologist Claude Bernard first started practicing experimental medicine on animals. Bernard thought it was immoral to conduct laboratory experiments on humans, if these test were not proven first proven to be safe on animals (LaFollette and Shanks, 1994). Man, as the most intelligent species of the animal kingdom, is constantly discovering new and innovative ideas to improve his life style and the quality of life. A proof of this advancement is evident in the average increase in the life span of the man from 45 years at the turn of the 19th century to 73 years in 21st century. Although a number of medical breakthroughs in recent history are due to the intensive research using animals as test subjects for the initial clinical trials, the number of experiments that have ended in failure -- consequently, at the cost of the sacrificing the life of the animal -- far exceed the number of successful experiments.
Experimentation on animals is not morally right. It is cruel to the animals. What happens to these animals after the experiments have ended? Where do these animals go? In the article, "An embarrassment of Chimpanzees," Joseph D'Agnese looked into some of the shortcomings of using animals in experimentation (Discover, 2002). When laboratories close, the chimps are either sent to another laboratory or to sanctuaries. Many of the chimpanzees, as a result of experiments, carry transmittable diseases such as AIDS and HIV, which make them difficult to handle and care for. They need special care. Their diseases preclude them from being let out in the wild where they may interact with and infect animals of the same kind of different kinds. Scientists that work with chimpanzees claim that valuable data is collected from biopsies, inoculations and knockouts -- a precursor to clinical trials with human subjects. Animal activists insist however, that animal free science having come of age, animal sacrifice is wholly unnecessary.
There are numerous experiments being conducted by various research centers in America, sponsored by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to discover solutions for just about every human ailment. It is becoming more apparent however, that the results of these trials on animals are not always very applicable to humans. In the article: 'A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation,' the authors state that there are better and more effective ways of arriving at conclusions for the validity of a study (Cohen et al., 1998). Supporters of vivisection (tests, experiments, and "educational" exercises involving harm to animals) have claimed that these experiments using animals play an important role in all medical advances. While there have been advantages in the past by using lab rats and rhesus monkeys to demonstrate new and innovative techniques in medicine, and the use of animals in medical school laboratories to help master skills in dissections, things have changed.
Modern technology has changed the research and medical arenas. New and constantly improving simulation models are available to those who wish to use them for research. Medical skills can be honed without actually dissecting and killing animals. If simulators can be used to teach pilots how to fly planes in different weather conditions, then simulators can also be used to train young doctors in medical skill needed for their work.
There are various experiments that have indicated that animal testing and experimentation do not give the same results as those that may be seen on humans. As humans became more finely tuned and evolved, they lost their resistance and become more susceptible to impurities and infections than animals. To wit: in the1940s, human clinical investigation strongly indicated that asbestos caused cancer, animal studies repeatedly failed to demonstrate this; studies of human patients had already shown by 1963 a strong correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, however almost all experimental efforts to produce lung cancer in animals had failed (Cohen, Kaufman, Ruttenberg, Fano, 1998). While all these experiments produced inconclusive results, injuries and death were inflicted on thousands of animals worldwide in laboratories conducting these experiments. Estimates of the number of animals tortured and killed annually in U.S. laboratories diverge widely - from 17 to 70 million animals (PETA, n.d.)
Dr. Arie Brecher, a pediatrician from Holon, Israel, in a speech given at a conference of the International Congress of Doctors Against Vivisection stated, "Animals are completely different from humans, and no animal species can serve as an experimental model for man. Each animal has a genetic code of its own, which is a fixed datum, and characteristically unique in each species" (Brecher, 1989). With the sequencing of the genome of the mouse and the ongoing work on the human genome, it is clear that a few variations in DNA may be responsible for different animals reacting differently to the same environment. While there is a similarity between the DNA of different animals, the differences are critical and more important.
A fundamental flaw in Claude Bernard's thinking arises. He claimed, "Since all living matter obeys the same physiological laws, then experiments on animals can yield significant biomedical truths about humans." This has been proved to be false. Strychnine, one of the deadliest poisons to humans, is harmless to monkeys, chickens, and guinea pigs. Sheep can consume enormous quantities of arsenic, which is fatal to humans in small amounts. Hemlock is a deadly poison for humans, but is consumed without ill effect by mice, sheep, goats and horses.
Animal tests do not protect humans from the sale of dangerous drugs and substances; companies, to avoid a liability due to failures of the product, only use these tests as a ploy. Moneymaking is the foremost goal of a corporate entity, and the often-observed absence of ill effects on animals enable a pharmaceutical to push for a drugs adoption in the human market. Phenylbutazone (anti-inflammatory), Thalidomide (sleeping pill and anti-nausea) and Clofibrate (anti-cholesterol) have had fatal side effects on human although there were no side effects observed on the animals on which they were tested (PRISM). A General Accounting Office report, released in May 1990, found that more than half of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1976 and 1985 caused side effects that were serious enough to cause the drugs to be withdrawn from the market or relabeled. (PETA, n.d.)
John Bowlby and other pioneers in the field of attachment-disorders in children, showed that human infants, raised in orphanages with little stimulation and human contact, failed to thrive, developed psychological disorders, and frequently died. This research was conducted as far back as 1965. In spite of these findings, research is still conducted on infant monkeys. Infant monkeys are separated from their mothers, families and peers for varying periods of time to study their behavioral and physiological reactions. Researchers Martin Reite and Mark Laudenslager implant monitoring devices in these animals, draw blood regularly, and monitor and record behavior that consists of: crying for the mothers, shaking, clasping themselves, social withdrawal, and slouched posture - is recorded. (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1997).
Daniel Povinelli conducted studies where he separated vulnerable baby chimpanzees from their natural mothers and then allowed them to bond with human foster parents for five years. The infants were then taken away from the only parents and way of life that they had known and put in a cage in a laboratory. This behavior if done to a human child would have been considered barbaric and cruel, however many researchers do similar type of experiments without a single thought to the trauma that they may be forcing on animals.
There are people however, that support experimentation on animals; many a time these people have lost loved ones to an illness for which a cure has still not been discovered. They feel that if more experiments were conducted, the cure could be found faster, thereby preventing another loss of human life to that sickness. Finding a cure is uppermost in the minds of these people and the divide between good and bad experimentation may be lost many a time. Humans generally avenge themselves upon species weaker than themselves to compensate for their own misfortunes.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reported that new sophisticated non-animal research methods are now currently available. These methods produce results that are more accurate, less expensive, and less time-consuming than traditional animal-based research methods. The animal's rights activist who vehemently oppose vivisections are sometimes considered too liberal in their view; their opinions are considered to be a hindrance in the research sector.
While all the stated examples were used for betterment of the human population, sometimes these experiments are conducted to ensure the safety and health of man's domesticated animals: dogs, cats, hamsters, pigs, rats and birds.
In a study to determine the effects of protein on a dog's kidney -- eight dogs were killed to analyze the kidney tissue. This study was part-funded by the dog and cat food "Iams Company" and reported in White J.V. et al., "Effect of dietary protein on functional, morphologic, and histologic…