The question of animal rights is a rather controversial issue of the twenty-first century. Some people believe that “animals have feelings, too,” while others are convinced that animal testing is essential to future scientific research. The opinions are entirely different, and one side of the conflict does not want to listen to another. The advancement in technology and science has made it possible to find the cure for many diseases, but without proper material gained from animal samples, some of the scientists’ future endeavors are doomed to failure. While experimentation of animals does bring them harm, the significance of the outcomes of such experiments for humans cannot be overestimated.
Significance of the Research Based on Animal Samples
As animal research has a great importance for the people’s welfare through medical progress, it does not seem possible to refuse from using animals for research purposes. It should be borne in mind that the scientists have no intention to hurt animals or exploit them without a beneficial prospect for the humanity (Festing and Wilkinson 526). Therefore, they take measures to control the animal exploitation in the studies. Bioscience specialists agree that there should be an ethical framework outlining the proper approaches to the use of animals in research. The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, implemented in the UK, was a pioneer in the animal protection against experimentation (Festing and Wilkinson 526). According to this Act, the research proposals engaging animals need to be thoroughly evaluated in terms of causing any damage to the animals. An exhaustive investigation of the planned experiments and procedures along with the types and number of animals needed should be submitted and approved before starting the research (Festing and Wilkinson 526). By doing this, the scientists eliminate the harm caused to animals while obtaining necessary material for relieving people’s suffering from dangerous diseases.
Opinions Supporting the Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes
While animal rights activists put the welfare of animals in the first place, their opponents try to prove that the use of animals in scientific research is highly beneficial for humans. The scientists face a complicated issue of balancing between satisfying the animal rights defenders and inventing cure for human diseases based on animal research (Gannon 519). One area of research where experimentation on animals cannot be replaced yet is testing for “teratogenicity” and “endocrine-disrupting activity” (Gannon 519). Such study involves animal-based study comprising several generations. Regrettably, the tissue and cell cultures are not able to replace the animal-based samples in a short time. Under these circumstances, the scholars consider the cost-benefit analysis the most crucial issue (Gannon 520). This approach justifies some research types while condemning the others. For instance, employing animals in biomedical research is generally accepted by the society whereas using them in cosmetics testing is not tolerated. Such approach allows to weigh the advantages for the society (medicine safety) against the disadvantages for the animals (pain and death) (Gannon 520).
In the light of current animal rights movements, some activists note that not all campaigns are at their core the “animal rights” but rather the “animal welfare” campaigns (Wise para. 1). One of the causes of such differentiation is that animals are often regarded as “legal things” as opposed to people who are “legal persons” (Wise para. 2). Thus, animals are not empowered with any rights and are considered as property items. Humans, on the contrary, have an inherent value and many juridical rights allowing them to use the “legal things” however they wish (Wise para. 2). Another cause is concerned with the fact that the term “animal” comprises immensely divergent biological kingdom with over 1.25 million species (Wise para. 2). Each of these species has a different level of autonomy, perception, general intelligence, and sensibility. Thus, the activists say, it is unfair to treat all animals as suitable subjects for experimentation (Wise para. 2). The supporters of this approach defend an opinion that animals should not just be given “animal rights” in general but each kind of animals should be given their own rights (Wise para. 9).
Threatening Behavior of Animal Rights Activists
Not all activities aimed at defending the animals’ rights bear the peaceful character of negotiations. While some defenders express their dissatisfaction of the use of animals for scientific research by signing petitions and promoting governmental Acts, others make themselves heard by employing totally different methods. Animal rights terrorism is a dangerous movement directed against the innocent people who merely do their job by inventing better cure techniques for the humanity. There have been a number of cases of attacks on the scientists by the animal rights terrorists (Hadley 363). People may get hurt or escape the violent actions, but in any case, they are morally devastated and frightened. There have been instances when after such attacks the scientists refused to proceed with their work (“Fighting Animal Rights Terrorism”). In 2006, the Animal Liberation Front tried to firebomb the home of Lynn Fairbanks, who worked as a researcher at a university. Their attempt was not successful, but Fairbanks’ colleague Dario Ringach refused to continue his neuroscientific research, being afraid for the lives of his children (“Fighting Animal Rights Terrorism”). Such attacks by animal rights terrorists are not rare. Their actions frighten the research workers, and they stop working on vital research the outcomes of which could save many people’s lives.
Punishment measures presupposed by the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) does not stop the activists. They break into the farmhouses and cause huge losses to the owners while releasing the animals and considering their actions noble (Pilkington para. 2-3). In 2015, two activists argued that the concept of terrorism is “inappropriately used,” and that the law “threatens to stop free speech across the animal rights movement” (Pilkington para. 3). This occasion proves that the animal rights terrorists are trying to obtain more power and possibilities which would enable them to expand their illegal activity against the farmers and researchers.
The debate about using animals for experiment research involves many issues and cannot be resolved in one day. However, people should come to some agreement in order to eliminate the adverse outcomes for animals as well as for the research workers. A thorough consideration of benefits and limitations of each particular study is necessary for the most suitable results. The researchers should only employ animals when it is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the animal rights activists should realize that without proper experimentation on animals, humans will suffer. The cost-benefit analysis should be applied to achieve the most constructive solutions. While animals may be hurt during the experiments, their suffering can be justified by the elimination of the effects of serious illnesses experienced by people.
Festing, Simon, and Robin Wilkinson. “The Ethics of Animal Research.” EMBO Reports, vol. 8, no. 6, 2007, pp. 526-530.
“Fighting Animal Rights Terrorism.” Editorial. Nature Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. 10, 2006, p. 1195.
Gannon, Frank. “Animal Rights, Human Wrongs?” EMBO Reports, vol. 8, no. 6, 2007, pp. 519-520.
Hadley, John. “Animal Rights Extremism and the Terrorism Question.” Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. 40, no. 3, 2009, pp. 363-378.
Pilkington, Ed. “Animal Rights ‘Terrorists’? Legality of Industry-Friendly Law to Be Challenged.” The Guardian. 2015. Web.
Wise, Steven M. “Animal Rights, Animal Wrongs: The Case for Nonhuman Personhood.” Foreign Affairs. 2015. Web.