The term Animal Testing refers to the procedures which take place before human clinical trials and it involves the development and experimental projects to determine the dosing, toxicity, and efficacy of drugs. This phrase has been used beyond the semantics and biological specificity. As such, without any reference, an animal testing exercise would be comprehended as any research procedure executed on a living organism from the zoological category of the kingdom Animalia.
Nevertheless, using the existing legislation framework, the definition of animal testing is limited to vertebrate animals, which are made up of the majority of species in the kingdom Animalia. The rationale for this legislative limitation is based on the assumption that vertebrates have less developed nervous system compared to invertebrates. As such, the assumption suggests that vertebrates have the capacity to suffer and feel pain more than invertebrates. In addition to this, the legislative restriction of the definition of animal experiments is that the procedure is done on live animals. This means that experimenting on dead animals is not animal testing.
This practice of using animals in research is not a modern development, as it has a long history. Animals have been used in experiments over the years for biomedical research. This can be traced back to the times of historical Greek scientists and physician who included the likes of Aristotle and Erasistratus who conducted experiments on live animals. Another account of utilizing animal testing is depicted by a Greek physician, Galen, who dedicated his life to improving the field of medicine by carrying out animal experiments in order to enhance the understanding of aspects such as physiology, anatomy, pathology, and pharmacology. Additionally, in the twelfth century, there emerged an Arab physician called Ibn Zuhr, who started animal research just like an experimental technique for assessing surgical procedures before applying them to humans.
Since then, animal testing is still working today, despite the fact that there are scientists and other animal welfare activists who oppose this practice. The main view of the opponents is that animal testing is humane and should not be practiced. Nevertheless, the reality in laboratories in the 21st century depicts that animal testing is still cherished. This can be illustrated by the increased variety of applications and purposes of animal experimentation. For instance, animal testing is used in education; basic and applied biomedical research, regulatory assessment of compounds, products and drugs as well as routine regulatory testing of biological products and substances.
Animal experiments are often based on the obsolete assumption that the response of animals and humans to a particular stress is the same. As such, scientists expose animals to certain products that are intended to be used by humans so that their reaction to the products can be assessed. The mostly used animals are mice, rats and rabbits, which are usually subjected to tests that evaluate the safety of personal care, cosmetic, household products, chemicals and medical devices. Their reaction to these products gives the basis of applying them to human situations.
In the 21st century, there are many types of animal testing carried out. Here are just but a few. One of the experiments is the eye irritancy test. This test aims at assessing eye irritation caused by various chemicals. The second type of animal testing that is carried out is acute toxicity. This test is used to evaluate the danger of being exposed by skin, mouth or inhalation. Another kind of testing is the dermal penetration animal testing. In this test, animals are used to give an understanding of the movement of chemicals through the skin.
Animal testing provides the researchers with the knowledge of the factors to consider in coming up with an individual treatment and drugs. This acts as the major benefit because several treatments administered are as a result of animal testing. Animal experiments also provide the safety measures to be taken before administering a certain drug. One can determine the side effects of a certain drug and know the steps to be taken to make sure that consumption of the drug is safe and efficient. Another advantage is the improvement of health care. Various animal tests are put into place to experiment new drugs and new better ways of treatment. Animals tend to have close similarities to humans concerning reaction to consumption of foreign matters. This prioritizes animal testing to human testing due to the value of human life thus acting as an advantage.
However, animal testing is very expensive and therefore limits the researchers in carrying out various experiments and come up with the correct result. The animals require food, shelter, and treatment to maintain them until the end of the research. The animals and humans are closely the same, but not completely equal in all aspects. Therefore, this makes it difficult for the researchers to come up with accurate results of their tests. The tests carried out in the animals may lead to the deaths of the animals or disabilities. The inability left with an animal might be a lifetime issue to the animal. Not all animal testing come up with the expected results thus causing the disposing of the animals, therefore, no value for the lives of the animals.
Due to the ethical considerations and fails of animal testing in the field of biomedical research, some alternatives may replace animal testing. One of the promising tests that may be used is the in vitro or test tubes test which utilized tissue culture and human cells in the experiments. Another method is to make use of practical drug tests and computerized patient-drug databases. Lastly, with the development of technology, there are non-invasive imaging techniques that have been developed over the year. These technologies, such as CT scans may be used as an alternative.
In conclusion, it is clear from the discussion that animal testing is beneficial in the field of biomedical research, as it has enabled scientists to test products before bringing humans into the picture. However, this practice brings forth ethical concerns since the animals being used in the testings are made to suffer and feel pain. Furthermore, the applicability of animal testing is also under scrutiny since the response to the exposure of substances differ among different animals. For these reasons, it is crucial that scientists adopt the alternatives of animal testing.
Sepahban, Lois. Animal Testing: Life-Saving Research Vs. Animal Welfare. 1st ed. Capstone, 2015. Print.