The History of Animal Experimentation and Testing


People gain the habit of oppressing animal species for human gain. Examples throughout history prove that this kind of medical testing backfires and harm both the creature and the human. Although certain animal experiments appear necessary, pharmaceutical testing on nonhuman primates declines morality and does not always benefit humanity.

The history of animal experimentation eventually could promote education to the public on this emotional issue and lead to better-supported opinions. Since the dawn of medicine, Ancient Greeks and Romans used animals and humans to further research on anatomy, biology, and physiology. But during the Middle Ages, Christianized Europe developed “little motivation to pursue scientific advancement” (Franco). People maintained a focus on the afterlife rather than the present life. As time progressed through the Renaissance, animal experimentation picked up again, and soon, the abolition of human dissecting intensified. Researchers did not deem medical animal testing as unethical. These cruel experiments carried through the Enlightenment. Rene Descartes’ characterization of nonhuman primates as ‘machinelike’ received heavy criticism “by many of his contemporaries'' (Franco). People used these terms to try and justify the brutal experiments performed on certain creatures in a time without anesthesia for animals and humans alike. People who defend animal testing admit that species reveal the capability “of such sentiments as fear, anger, hope or joy” (Franco). They also feel suffering which “means that they… have interests'' (Wright and Hoagland 3). Nonhuman creatures feel pain and suffering but humanity ignores their cries for help and continues to aggressively desire more research. Later, medical experimentation on creatures began as an issue of morals instead of mere curiosity. Soon, influential people during the time of the Enlightenment started to argue that the “cruelty to animals… could lead humans to develop feelings and actions of cruelty towards other humans'' (Franco). From the beginning, medical experimentation illustrates a complicated history full of counterarguments and dissension. Medical history presents an opportunity for the public to become educated on a highly debated matter. When carefully considered, medical research on animal species proves barbarous and corrupt. 

Many people often forget that sometimes animal experimentation fails, and humans come to the conclusion that this system of medical testing seems acceptable without examining the true stories. Now some drugs, when tested on animals first, protect human lives. But behind closed doors and perhaps illegally, many tests mar the creature or take its life. In 1983, at the University of Pennsylvania, an incident in which “150 baboons suffered brain damage as a result of hydraulic equipment smashing against the baboons’ heads” (Wright and Hoagland 3) captured the public eye. The test immediately shut down when found out by the government. Many examples like this attempt to advance the name of medicine but animal rights activists only publicize it as much as possible. With the number of creatures killed each year for drug research ranges from 50 to 100 million (Wright and Hoagland 3), people become apprehensive or disturbed about hefty issues such as extinction. Thousands of animals die in vain every year because the medical experiment results prove indefinite. Realizations that multiple species do not reap certain human diseases continue to raise questions if the effects of drugs tested on animals first differ from the effects of the drug on human beings. Supporting this, Dr. Richard Klausner, the former director of the US National Cancer Institute, states that “We have cured mice of cancer for decades and it simply didn’t work in human beings” (“Arguments Against”). Even today, humanity does not know how different tests will influence the world or how people see drug research. But when experiments on animals misfire, intense animal experimentation serves as unethical, unreliable, dangerous, and wasteful. Because of this, “90% of drugs fail in human tests despite promising results in animal tests'' (“Arguments Against”). When procedures habitually show unclear results, human and creatures’ lives must stay defended and sheltered. For example, Vioxx, a drug to treat arthritis, proved effective in six diverse animal species but caused thousands of heart attacks and strokes worldwide (“Arguments Against”). The future of medicine should not rely on dubious testing. Too many creatures’ lives shorten due to questionable data. More examples of drugs that proved safe on animals but toxic to humans mimic that of the Vioxx case. Some drugs exemplify positive results on humans but mutation inducing in various species. Medical experimentation on animals does not always prove favorable and consequently backfires when least expected which causes more lives to be negatively affected.

Many solutions and compromises prove achievable which, in turn, could save many lives, human or animal. Today, technological advancements become easily accessible and profitable. Solutions for minimizing the number of creatures harmed could include “computer-assisted mathematical modeling” (Paul pp. 7-15). Biological and anatomic models strive to understand medicine without jeopardizing innocent lives. Technology provides humanity with the ability to interpret body systems and drug effects. Another solution that utilizes recent technological advancements could involve “cell extracts; tissue and organ studies'' (Paul pp. 7-15). Modifying the cells in plates allows them to operate as mini organs. This much safer method of testing includes no new risk of harming other lives. People who argue for animal experimentation admit “alternatives to animals exist and are used by scientists when appropriate” (Paul pp. 7-15). Advanced technology and higher reasoning solutions to animal testing permit the continuation of drug research. Some other compromises already take place, but the matter of making these ideas a typical reality is the goal. Some studies may allow humans an important part. Human beings may consent to noninvasive or nonhazardous procedures to help the safe continuation of medical research. Social compromises also present options to animal experimentation. The general public lacks education about what really goes on to these creatures and if trusted labs and universities opened their doors to the public to learn about the experiments, more people would likely crave involvement and peacefully attempt to increase the productivity of research without harming the animals. After all, if certain experiments expect to support human prosperity, “why should they not be conducted in the open like the other legal, beneficial activities'' (Wright and Hoagland 3)? The ability to learn more about what goes on in professional labs would secure the integrity of the studies and increase the benefits to all if no lives were hurt in the process. Moreover, figures who encourage medical animal testing admit that animal activists, “thus far, been much more successful in stating their case to the public” (Paul pp. 7-15). People who confirm the value of animal experiments attest that the public does not hear enough about the actions being done behind lab doors. Education helps to develop the first step towards understanding controversial issues. So many possible solutions to prevent animal testing could alter the future of medical research and eradicate the number of non-human lives lost due to these practices.

From the beginning of time, non-human primates provided satisfaction in medical experiments. But despite the system’s unfortunate popularity, drug research on animals backfires sometimes and causes too much loss of animal life. The public should wish for education so clear solutions and accords seem achievable. Humans bear a blessing of intelligence. Therefore, humanity should apply that gift to minimize and eventually eliminate the number of animals’ lives being lost for human prosperity. 

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