Animal research is a controversial topic in some circles.
As some of you may know already, a UCLA group has recently banded together to counter-protest the fear-mongering tactics used by animal rights activists. Before UCLA Pro-Test became a reality, researchers on campus would hide away when on campus demonstration came our way. No more.
Dr. David Jentsch, who was one of my UCLA advisors, had his car burned and his work, and life, threatened by one of the more extreme, terrorist, animal-rights groups. I’m all for debate, but blowing up cars makes you lose your place at the table as far as I’m concerned.
So what are the animal-rights arguments?
Animal rights groups claim that animal research is simply sadistic and that it does not benefit us at all.
The notion that animal researchers enjoy hurting animals is so wrong as to be insulting. I’ve conducted animal research myself and know dozens of others who have. Not one of us enjoys hurting animals and we do our best to conduct everything in ways that minimize any discomfort to the animals. Additionally, government regulations regarding animal welfare in research are very strict and highly regulated. Research involving animals is always done while considering its necessity and weighing alternative options (like using cells, tissue, computer models, etc.).
The thought that animal research doesn’t benefit us is naive at best, but more likely purposefully misleading. Here’s a small, partial, list of advances that were made possible through animal research:
- Penicillin (mice)
- Insulin (dogs, mice, rabbits)
- Anesthetics (rats, rabbits, dogs)
- Polio Vaccine (mice, monkeys)
- Heart transplants (dogs)
- Meningitis Vaccine (mice)
- Cervical Cancer Vaccine (rabbits, cancer)
- Gene therapy for Muscular Dystrophy and Cystic Fibrosis (mice).
- Techniques such as bypass surgery, joint replacement, carcinogen screening & blood transfusions have all been developed & improved using animals
Now if anyone wants to claim that none of the above have significantly improved, or indeed saved, human lives, I’m ready for the debate.