Animals have been studied since the ancient Greeks to advance human knowledge. Today, they're used in laboratory research studying cosmetics, drugs, household products and equipment. Animal experimentation and dissection also take place in schools and universities. The topic generates a lot of debate, as many people believe that the benefits of animal testing outweigh any harm caused, and others believe that animal cruelty should not be permitted in any context.
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Pro: Benefits to Human Life
Using animals in scientific experiments has led to many discoveries that have improved human quality of life. Advocates of animal testing say that the benefits far outweigh the costs. By minimising harm and discomfort to the animals, scientists can ethically maximise the benefits to society. Using animals in experimentation has led to the creation of vaccines, antibiotics, therapies, surgical techniques and medications, saving and improving lives around the world. It is argued that experimenting on live animals produces more accurate and practical results than experimenting on cell cultures.
Pro: Benefits for Animals
Frequently forgotten is the positive effect that animal testing has on the lives of other animals. Students in veterinary school use live animals to learn anatomy and physiology to treat animals in the future. Animal testing has been used to improve the lives of working animals and pets. In addition, studying animals encourages the development of techniques and knowledge to help preserve animal species in the wild, and to help support diverse ecology.
Con: Animal Rights
By many accounts, animal testing often means that that animals are not treated humanely. According to Santa Clara University, approximately 8 million animals are exposed to painful testing procedures, and at least 10 per cent of these do not receive painkillers. Many people believe it is unjust to sacrifice one species for the benefit of another, and that animal cruelty is never justified, regardless of the benefits that come from it. Some feel that it does not follow that a human --- Earth's most highly developed animal --- is considered more valuable than any other animal. Even when animals are not killed or harmed during experimentation, they are often subjected to great deals of stress. Some animal advocates believe that the animal's experience of stress could actually influence an experiment, making the results unusable.
Animal testing is notoriously expensive, and also very time-consuming. According to Care2, scientific professionals in the U.S. have used approximately £13 million in taxpayer money on animal experiments that are deemed "arbitrary and pointless." Animal testing in general costs more than non-animal testing, since it requires additional lab equipment, such as animal food, cages and needles, and usually takes a lot more time. Animal activists argue that many animals experiments aren't necessary in the first place --- like testing cocaine on monkeys --- and don't contribute vital information to the scientific community.
Individuals in the scientific and animal rights community alike maintain that most experiments leading to life-saving scientific breakthroughs could have been done just as easily without using animals. Some scientists even believe that non-animal testing produces more accurate results than animal testing. Advances in stem cell research, for example, may well render animal testing pointless in the future. In addition, according to Living Cruelty Free, the safety of a product or procedure on an animal does not always translate over to human safety, due to "interspecies variation in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry." Lots of experiments performed using cosmetics and other household items are not necessary, because many popular companies do not test on animals. These companies are labelled "cruelty-free" by PETA.
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