One argument against animal testing is that there are often more acceptable alternatives. For example, scientists can test whether chemicals will irritate the eyes using the blood vessel-rich membrane lining a hen's egg, rather than exposing the eyes of living animals to the chemical. Cells grown in a test tube (in vitro) and computer simulations can offer a good idea of how animals and humans would respond to certain tests. Those against animal testing advocate three Rs: replacement (finding alternative methods of testing), reduction (using animal testing as little as necessary) and refinement (making sure that animal testing is done in the most humane and pain-free fashion).

Unknown Variables

Alternatives to animal testing do not always work, however, because the system of a living organism can be unpredictable. If scientists perform tests on computer models, test tube-grown cells or "lower organisms" (such as eggs or invertebrates, rather than warm-blooded animals), they may not see as full a picture of the test results as they would with testing on live animals (or animals which are more similar to humans). In order to fully understand a live organism's system, scientists must perform animal testing at some point.

Unnecessary Cruelty

Animal rights advocates argue that testing on animals is cruel and unnecessary. Some connect animal testing to racism or sexism, arguing that all living creatures are worthy of respect and that making animals suffer for any reason is morally wrong. Dr. Tom Regan, a leader in the animal rights movement, writes that animals "have beliefs and desires; perception, memory, and a sense of the future." The argument that animal testing may be necessary is no excuse, from this point of view, because it is the responsibility of scientists to discover humane alternatives.

Greater Good

Those in favor of animal testing argue that it has led to many advances in science, increasing the quality of life for both humans and animals. Animal testing has helped us develop vaccines, surgeries, cancer treatments and other life-saving medical advances. Although animal testing may cause pain to a few animals, many believe that the greater good of humanity outweighs this cost.


I'm going to try and impartially present both sides of this issue, as I know them. I'll confine myself to what I know to be facts, and avoid supposition. I shall also try to bring to the table every valid argument on both sides that comes to mind. I shall withold my own subjective opinions in this matter, and will not state where my own heart lies in this argument.

Note that this is an argument that is neither cut and dried, and has both objective and subjective components to it. I promise to treat each as fairly as I can, without the blessing or curse of my own opinion rearing its own ugly or delightful head.

If I seem split on this issue -- well...  

In favor of Animal Research:

The leading arguments favoring animal research as as such:

Certain compounds, be they food or pharmaceuticals, may have unforeseen effects that no amount of calculation or research is going to unearth. Thalidomide, in the 1960's, is a classic example. A sedative, Thalidomide made it through trials with no apparent problems. No-one, however, thought to test how this drug would work if used by woman who were pregnant. It turns out, the way it worked was that it produced amazingly grotesque, heartbreaking birth defects. The testing wasn't flawed. No-one had a clue this would happen. But clearly it did. Long term testing on primate subjects would have been grisly, but very well might have uncovered this defect before hundreds of human babies were born with horriffic and incapacitating defects, almost all quickly fatal.

The fact is, that when it comes to prepping a drug or vaccine or procedure for use on the human population, we either need to test it on animals with metabolic and eventually genetic similarities to humans, or we'll have to let it into production without testing. Or -- in effect -- the final phase tests won't be in the lab; they'll be on your neighbors.

To put this in perspective, what if it's your sibling who, on the happy day of the birth of their child, finds a creature that will never live a day without extreme pain, not a minute without the revultion of others, not a month in school, not a minute on a bicycle, and not a decade alive -- leaving behind a family financially and emotionally devasted (and statistically likely to even be divorced). But there are a few monkeys somewhere who were left alone.  

Opposed to Animal Testing:

Simply because animals are not human does not imply they don't feel pain, despair, torture, and horror, somewhat as we do. Inflicting torturous procedures on animlas in order to spare ourselves the pain seems morally reckless at best, and arrogant to the point of hubris at worst.

As we do not "own" these creatures, we have no inherent right to subject them against their will to what we ourselves call inhumane practices, any more than we have a right to torture animals for our amusement. The question may be posed: "What makes it morally acceptable for us to take another creature's freedom and life away from them, solely to maybe improve the qualitiy of our lives, but more likely suffer much as we ourselves would suffer, without discernable, beneficial results?"

And worse, up until recently, this testing wasn't solely reserved for matters of life and death, or even human health; we tested with animals in order to discover the potential dangers of cosmetics (although this practice has almost stopped, and WILL stop in your lifetime). The story this tells about humans isn't even sufficiently dignified to say, "we sacrificed them that we may live", but rather, "They died in pain so that we may look good flirting."  

A Final Note on Human Test Subjects.

Both sides of this argument eventually reach the point of discussing human subjects. The fact is this is an accepted albeit controverisal practice, and we do extensive human testing. The rules are:

The human must of course be eligible for the test, physically and emotionally.

The "pay" or reward for the test must be clearly stated before the test begins.

The subject must be apprised that, in blind and double-blind tests, they may be given the drug, or they may be given the placebo -- even if they need the drug to survive.

And -- they must be allowed to decide to do or not do this as a free choice, unencumbered by threat or benefit unrelated to the test.

You can't legally let prisoners get invovled in most medical testing, because it's cruel and inhuman punishment, and violates the 4th Amendment. If one personally feels this to be unreasonable, consider lobbying to amend that amendment. But, as it stands today, those are the laws.

The fact is that no-one will submit willfully to medical testing unless they have something to gain. The more dangerous the potential outcome of the test, the more they'll need to gain, to the point that the tests have almost the blackmailer's taint about them. The very rich would have no reason to consider participating in such tests, and so this would be the realm of the disenfranchised and powerless to effectively say no.

Neither side in this argument has, after consideration, put forth the idea of total cessation of animal testing in favor of testing on humans.

Any testing that is done must be done voluntarily. No being has a natural right to subject another being to any treatment, be it with or without their knowledge. The reasoning that humans are superior beings and thus are given a wider range of freedoms to test other species is nonsense, like saying that you should go to jail for murdering a smart person longer than for doing the same to a dumb person. Even the testing of medicines on human beings voluntarily would have to be looked at carefully as this is happening today to people that are seriously economically disadvantaged and could therefore be considered to be coerced.  


I would like to add on to the discussion.Many people think that animal testing is easy because it doesn't harm you, but it actually does. It harms you possibly if something goes wrong and the animal you're performing testing upon dies, then that's 1 less of their species and that alone makes a minor scratch on the ecosystem. I too think animal testing should be banned. If you want something to test on, test on an object or somthing who agrees.  


i don't like animal testing at all. It's cruel! I don't like disecting animals even if they are dead. This is a good website:Altweb: Alternatives to Animal Testing and S FDA/CFSAN - Animal Testing

The use of animals in experimentation can be traced back to a time when animal rights was still an alien concept and the debate about animal experimentation was not as fierce as it is today. The history of animal experimentation has been recorded in writings from the fourth century BC, when apparently Aristotle and his contemporaries performed experiments on live animals. It was in the twelfth century that the Arab physician, Avanzoar, started dissecting animals to test techniques for surgery before using them on human beings. Today, according to statistics provided by the British Union for Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) almost 100 million vertebrates are used for animal testing each year. Add to this the number of invertebrates like mice, rats, frogs, etc. that are used for experimentation and the figures reach astronomical numbers. While many animals used in experimentation are bred for the purpose, there are some that are caught from the wild and in some cases even taken from pounds. Most animals that are used for testing are euthanized after being experimented.

Animal experimentation takes place in pharmaceutical companies, labs, medical schools, universities, defense institutes, cosmetic companies, etc. The results from the research conducted are used for a variety of purposes like genetics, behavior studies, cosmetic testing, biomedical research, drug testing, toxicology tests, etc. Due to ethical reasons and many instances of cruelty, animal testing is regulated heavily in many countries. People who support experimentation often state that it has been the basis of every success story in the medical field in the past century but detractors and animal rights activists often label this as moot. The point they make is that most of these tests cannot successfully predict the effects that the tests may have on humans and therefore, just cruel practices. In the next two sections we take a look at the various pros and cons as stated by the respective groups.

Why Animal Experimentation is Good

"Millions of people die each year because of diseases. Animal testing has helped cure millions of people. If we didn't have animal testing, a million more people would die each year. I would kill one mouse or rabbit to save the lives of millions." - Anonymous

The thought above probably signifies the strongest argument in favor of experimentation on animals. Over time, studies using animals have been the most beneficial when it comes to testing drugs and medications that prospectively may save human beings from fatal diseases. Also testing on animals means an understanding of possible side effects and working on them. A complete ban on experimentation means that a huge chunk of medical research would have to be brought to a premature end. There is also a predominant belief that in case experimentation is conducted keeping in mind the safety of the animals conducted then reducing human suffering should be the priority.

One of the animal testing facts that is frequently stated is that without experimentation on animals, techniques like open heart surgeries, bypass surgeries, organ transplants would still be a thing of the past. Many important medication like insulin and vaccines for polio, mumps, etc. are all a result of experimentation. The reason this is important is because many animals especially chimpanzees share many aspects of the genetic makeup of human beings. This makes it possible for researchers to ascertain whether or not a certain technique or medication would work without risking the lives of humans. Detractors continue to argue that these facts do not make up for the cruelty that animals are put through.

Arguments Against Animal Experimentation

"Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction." - Charles R. Magel

The argument against animal testing is largely about the cruelty and torture that they are subjected to. Most animal rights activists continue to question the humaneness of testing an animal only because it is a lower species. A very strong point put forward by activists of animal rights is that there are many animals like rats and rabbits, that have no similarities in their genetic makeup when compared with human beings and they are still being used for research. The question being asked in such a situation is how does the effect of a drug on these animals reflect on their effect on human beings. In case of animals like chimpanzees which share many aspects of human physiology, the question is whether it is ethically right to test intelligent, evolved animals.

Animal testing statistics show that the kind of treatment that is meted out to these animals in captivity is not only cruel but is a reflection of poor evil and selfishness. In most cases, wrong dosage is handed out resulting in brain damage and death of the animals. Injecting them with viruses that are potentially fatal only because they cannot express pain is unacceptable. Detractors always highlight the ethics involved in the same. Animal cruelty is one of their strongest arguments.

These were just some of the animal testing pros and cons. In many countries, with the increasing number of people speaking up against animal experimentation, there are three guiding rules in place, which are known as the three R's; replacement that suggests using non-animal methods of testing as often as possible, reduction that refers to the use of fewer number of animals if animal testing has to take place, and refinement which refers to using methods that are less invasive, and providing better care to the animals. The debate on animal experimentation will not see an end in the near future but ensuring that the guidelines are followed may reflect towards a softening in the viewpoints of both sides.