Is it Necessary to Use Animals For Medical Research? (AGAINST)


AGAINST:

If your child was dying, would you sacrifice the life of your family pet in order to find a cure?

This single misleading question inflicts unimaginable cruelty upon people and animals, and yet it is the cornerstone of the public relations strategy that has been adopted by the multi-million-dollar research industry.

For people suffering from an incurable disease, this false promise holds out unrealistic hopes for them and their families and, each year in Canada, condemns more than 2 million animals to death in research laboratories.

This issue is not about putting animal rights before human rights. Instead it is a matter of restricting human rights to do as we please - only an animal will suffer.

Perhaps, just as importantly, it is about researchers who accept public tax dollars, but will not accept the public scrutiny that goes along with it.

Ontario Humane Society Inspectors have police powers to investigate reports of cruelty toward animals. However, under the Animals for Research Act, Humane Society Inspectors are forbidden form exercising their authority over a registered research facility.

In Canada, a person convicted of cruelty to animals faces fines, a term of imprisonment and even orders prohibiting ownership or custody of animals. The law is intended to protect both wild and domestic animals. Historically, no one has been above the law, not even researchers.

However, the Law Reform Commission of Canada is currently reviewing the laws to protect animals from cruelty. From documents obtained under the Access to Information Act it is clear the research industry is pressuring for weaker laws, which will allow it special privileges and exemptions.

No protection:

If this takes place, then there would be virtually no legal protection for animals used in laboratories. The only other mechanism that exists is a voluntary system of review by fellow scientists, which is administered by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

This is an agency funded by two other government sources: the Medical Research Council of Canada and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

The CCAC sets up assessment panels to visit research laboratories, but it has no legal right to inspect any facility. They do allow one humane society representative to accompany them - provided that the individual promises never to reveal what they have observed.

Several research institutions have rejected the humane society representative.

While there can be no doubt that the CCAC and individual researchers have taken positive steps to benefit both people and animals, each step of the way has been met with opposition.

If the research industry succeeds in eliminating the laws to protect lab animals, then a voluntary system cloaked in secrecy will be all that remains. That leaves the public with the choice of accepting either the word of a governmental representative or a researcher that lab animals are not being mistreated. That simply isn't good enough.

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Taken from Shelters:

Homeless pets are also taken from animal shelters for experiments, although many shelters are refusing to surrender their animals. Instead of working to solve the pet overpopulation problem, the research industry merely says the animal is going to die anyway.

Hoping the public will sanction the infliction of pain and suffering upon rodents, the industry also tells us that many mice and rats are used in experiments. That plan backfires when the researchers are forced to explain how the results obtained form working with rats and mice can be scientifically compared with human beings.

The use of animals in cosmetics and product testing, psychological experiments, warfare and other studies is not only expensive and wasteful, but the scientific results are questionable at best. While no one will argue that biomedical research has provided some benefits to people, a great deal more reliable information has been obtained through the direct study of human beings. Human clinical studies have provided a tremendous amount of scientific information simply because the research focuses on people - not laboratory animals.

Chimpanzees, a critically endangered species, are being used for AIDS studies. Chimpanzees have been found to be infected with a several viruses that closely resemble but are not identical to the human HIV, including a newly discovered simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the possible precursor for all HIV strains, that originated in another primate species, the spot-nose monkey.

However, due to physiological differences, these viruses don't prove fatal to the chimps as they are to humans. This negates their usefulness as models upon which to draw conclusions as to how the disease affects humans. With willing co-operation from AIDS-patients more critical information is being learned about the disease condition as it relates specifically to humans.

Drugs tested as safe on animals are not always safe for use by human beings. One of the most tragic mistakes in recent memory is the use by pregnant women of the drug thalidomide, which caused serious birth defects in their children.

Historically, researchers claim medical research is responsible for eradicating diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria and tuberculosis. In fact, these diseases were already in decline before the specific therapies were developed, and owed much to improvements in hygiene and sanitation, living and working conditions, and nutrition.

Preventive Medicine:

While the average person understands that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, somehow this logic escapes the research industry. Surely a person benefits far more from a healthy diet and regular exercise than from open-heart surgery.

Serious human social problems are behind drug and alcohol abuse - problems which will be resolved through human intervention, not by force-feeding drugs and alcohol to laboratory mice.

Environmental pollution of our air, soil, water and food threatens the very fabric of life on Earth. The World Health Organization states that 90 per cent of all cancers are triggered by environmental pollutants - yet we continue to treat diseases, such as cancer, after they happen.

Computer models, physical and chemical techniques, and tissue cultures have been used in the fight against AIDS and cancer. An analysis of the Nobel Prizes awarded for medicine and physiology revealed that alternative methods made a major contribution to the research in two-thirds of the cases including research into cancer, malaria, AIDS, penicillin, RNA, DNA and typhus.

The most basic premise of the scientific inquiry is having an open mind on any subject. Regrettably, most researchers are not trained in the use of alternatives so they continue to reject the meaningful funding and support of these scientific techniques.

Researchers, instead, cling to scientifically unreliable methods such as the Draize test (chemicals applied to the eyes of an animal) and the Lethal Dose 50 test (animals exposed of force-fed chemicals until half of the group dies).

Lasso is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. In a Canadian hearing to determine whether it was linked to cancer, researchers argued laboratory rats could not be used to predict how the chemical would affect people. In England, a member of the government advisory committee on the use of animals in research states the results of up to 90 per cent of animal tests are not even important enough to publish in scientific journals.

Pain and suffering are cruel facts of life. We can never truly eliminate them from our own lives or from the lives of animals.

But cruelty we deliberately inflict is a different matter entirely. We can control that and prevent it from ever taking place.