Image result for experiments on animalsExperimenting with animals is one of the most controversial topics that usually ends up in passionate arguments and not only in the scientist area but in the media, in social groups, in universities and even in the industry. It’s really difficult to remain idle because the dilemma is: How far can experiments with animals be scientifically and ethically admitted? To what extent can animal suffering be justified for the benefits of humankind?

In The United States, 26 million of animals are used every year for research and education. In Spain, the number is over 70,000 and approximately sixty per cent of these experiments are made with mice and thirty per cent on rats. Rabbits, hamsters, dogs, cats, sheep, horses, cows and fish, show the wide range that scientists play with. As:

  • We share 95% of our genes with mice, making them an effective model for the human body.
  • Animals and humans are very similar.  We have the same organ systems performing the same tasks in more or less the same way.
  • Animals suffer from similar diseases to humans including cancers, TB, flu and asthma.
  • In-vitro methods and computer modelling play an important part complementing data from animal models.
  • Modern surgical techniques including hip replacement surgery, kidney transplants, heart transplants and blood transfusions have all been perfected in animals.
  • Scanning techniques were developed using animals.

However, a few years ago, new initiatives in the United States and abroad are seeking to replace animals with alternative models for ethical and scientific reasons. In some countries, the non-human primates are used less and less than before and the requirements are strict indeed. These other voices claim that:

  • Before using some medicines is compulsory to test them on animals; nevertheless compulsory it doesn’t mean as necessary since some researches with animals have only commercial reasons.
  • We must bear in mind that the production of cosmetic products and medical products are bigger than we really need.
  • The best way to make researches about cancer, Ebola, and other diseases is using human beings but, of course, it’s far costlier.
  • The chemical companies invest one per cent of their budget in looking for new research methods and only for the commonest diseases.
  • The chemical companies also state: when we use animals, our challenge is to get happy people. The bitter truth is that when they use them they only want to get profits.

 In my opinion I agree about using animals in health researches providing they assure the compliance with pertinent international legislation. At the same time, I support the idea of looking for new lines for further researches even if they become pricier. But, from time to time, I have the impression that people are a little bit hypocritical. Some months ago, when Ebola outbreak was really devastating and Spanish people were terrified for only two cases, everybody asked for some treatment regardless of its source, either human or animal. When we talk about strange diseases and the lack of money to invest on their studies, we don’t enquire how they are going to experiment it. We just want them to be carried out. And, therefore, I totally disagree with the idea of using animal in cosmetic or industrial researches whose exclusive target is to increase the already very lucrative turnover.

© Plataforma creada por Alfonso Hinojosa - Profesor de Inglés de la E.O.I. de Santander