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A New Look At An Old Argument: Animal Rights

2345 words - 10 pages

Animal rights concerning medical testing and consumption of animals in general has become a hot topic in the last few decades as more and more animal rights & awareness issues have entered the world stage. From a variety of backgrounds, groups have rallied to the cause of animals around the world that are involved in drug testing, cosmetic and experimental testing, and the general slaughtering of animals for food purposes. The most hotly contested issue has been drug testing where the development of potentially human life-saving substances is weighed against the life of these animals. This paper will show how recent scientific research has been working hard to increase the accuracy and usage ...view middle of the document...

Not until 1991, due to human studies, did OSHA label it carcinogenic, in other words, a cancer causing agent or substance. In another instance, surgeons thought they had perfected radial keratotomy, surgery performed to enable better vision without glasses, on rabbits, but the procedure blinded the first human patients. It was later discovered that the rabbit cornea is able to regenerate on the underside, whereas the human cornea can only regenerate on the surface. Then there are some particular drugs: Clioquinol, an antidiarrheal, passed tests in rats, cats, dogs and rabbits, but then had to be withdrawn all over the world in 1982 after it was found to cause blindness and paralysis in humans. The dose of isoproterenol, a medication used to treat asthma, was calculated in animals. Unfortunately, it was much too toxic for humans. 3500 asthmatics died in Great Britain alone due to overdose. It is still difficult to reproduce these results in animals. Finally, the field of antibiotics may have been much different if animal testing had been used. Despite the ineffectiveness of penicillin in rabbits, Alexander Fleming used the antibiotic on a very sick patient when he had nothing else to try. Fortunately, Fleming's had not yet done the initial tests on guinea pigs or hamsters because it was later discovered to kill them. Howard Florey, the Nobel Prize winner credited with co-discovering and manufacturing penicillin, stated "How fortunate we didn't have these animal tests in the 1940s, for penicillin would probably never been granted a license, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realized" (Martin 4).
Now while there have been obvious benefits to animal testing, these faults have been combined with the ethical and moral arguments to bolster the counter argument. The most recent developments have been the widespread searching for alternative testing methodology. While no protester would contend that there is not a definite need for the chemical research being done, advancements in areas such as in-vitro technologies and artificial membranes has given them additional fuel for the fire.
Some other new alternatives include cell cultures, eye bank corneas, sophisticated computers, and mathematical models. Statisticians and epidemiologists also can judge safety by analyzing clinical surveys, human volunteers, case studies, autopsy reports, statistical analyses and environmental factors related to human disease. As technology advances, these types of tests are becoming less expensive and often produce much faster results than traditional animal testing (Keville 1).
In one such example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the use of Corrositex, a protein membrane designed to function like skin. It can replace rabbit skin tests with results available in just a few hours at a low cost of $100 per test. This would replace the twenty-one day, $1,000 price tag of a single Draize...

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