The only animals that we test on are the two of us and our kids.”

Connie Sellecca, Actress

Pros and Cons of Animal Testing

advantages and disadvantages of animal testing

Animal testing (sometimes also referred to as animal experimentation or animal research) has become quite popular over the past decades.

Among others, it can help us to understand certain diseases and how to treat and cure them properly.

However, apart from many additional advantages of animal experimentation, there are also many problems related to it.

In this article, the pros and cons of animal testing are examined.

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Advantages of Animal Testing

  1. Better understanding regarding certain bacteria and viruses
  2. Can help to cure diseases
  3. May be useful to treat future pandemics
  4. New vaccines
  5. Animal testing can help to save many lives
  6. Can increase our overall life expectancy
  7. Safety improvements for customers
  8. Not only useful for humanity
  9. Some animals have quite similar physiology compared to us humans
  10. Important to find treatment for many serious diseases in the future
  11. Animal research had been quite helpful in the history of mankind
  12. Lack of suitable alternative testing methods

Better understanding regarding certain bacteria and viruses

One important advantage of animal testing is that we will be better able to understand certain viruses and bacteria once we test their effects on animals. Even in our current state of the world, there are so many bacteria and viruses around and we know quite little about the majority of them yet.

Moreover, some viruses also mutate over time and may change their characteristics. Therefore, in order to improve our knowledge regarding those bacteria and viruses, it is crucial that we engage in testing those germs on other living organisms like animals.

Only then will we be prepared in case we have serious outbreaks of epidemics or even pandemics, at least to a certain extent.

Can help to cure diseases

Animal research can also help us to cure many serious diseases. In the past, there had been many diseases that led to the death of millions of people which can be treated much better today and some of those diseases had even ben eradicated over time.

Hence, animal testing can be quite beneficial to cure and to eradicate diseases. This has not only been true in the past, but will continue to be true also in the future of humanity.

May be useful to treat future pandemics

Another benefit of animal testing is that it can be quite useful to treat pandemics in the future. Pandemics pose a serious risk to humanity since if countries spread across borders, millions of people can die from it.

This is especially true for people who live in the poor part of our planet since they often do not have access to proper medical treatment or simply cannot afford it.

Consequently, in order to protect those people from serious health problems, animal research can play a significant role since it may help to find certain treatments that are able to avoid the spread of diseases across country borders and in turn to save millions of lives.

New vaccines

Many of our health problems can also be mitigated by using vaccines. Through vaccinations, we can achieve a state of mass immunization and therefore, our general public will be much better protected against various diseases. However, in order to find vaccines that may protect us against bacteria of various sorts, plenty of research has to be carried out.

Quite often, before those vaccines will be approved for medical applications on the general public, plenty of trials have to be carried out in order to assure the safety of those vaccines. Those trials are often carried out with the help of animal testing in the early stages in order to avoid potential dangers for human health.

Therefore, animal research can also take away the need to test vaccines on humans in early research stages and can protect us humans from serious potential complications.

Animal testing can help to save many lives

Over the past decades, animal testing has been a quite important tool to save many millions of human lives. Although it is hard to measure the exact effects of animal research since there are so many other variables in place, leading scientists agree that animal testing is crucial for medical progress.

Only with this kind of medical progress, we had been able to cure serious diseases in the past and will also be able to do so in the future. Therefore, in order to protect millions of human lives in the future, we might have to sacrifice some animal lives.

Can increase our overall life expectancy

Our average life expectancy has greatly increased over the past decades. While it was quite common that people died around the age of 40 just a few centuries ago, we now have an average life expectancy of around 85 years and the trend continues to go upwards.

Many scientists estimate that in a few years, newborns may even have a life expectancy of over 100 years. This vast increase in life expectancy is due to increased wealth levels, but also mainly due to our rapid medical progress and due to the extensive research that has been done over the past decades.

This research also included plenty of animal testing and therefore, animal experimentation may have played a major role to increase our overall life expectancy as a global society and may also continue to do so in the future.

Safety improvements for customers

Before products are approved for the mass market, plenty of research and testing has to be done in order to ensure the safety of products. This is not only true for medical products, but also for new products in the food industry.

For instance, this is especially true for food supplements since they often contain high concentrations of a certain substance, which may be potentially harmful to human health.

Hence, in order to protect our general public from unknown harmful effects from those products, animal testing may give some indication regarding potential dangers of those products.

Not only useful for humanity

The findings that we can get from animal testing are not only useful for humans, they can also help to treat other animals. For instance, if your dog or your cat gets sick, you may have to see a veterinarian in order to cure that disease.

However, those veterinarians may only be able to treat the disease properly if they have access to proper research findings regarding what has helped in animal trials and what should be avoided.

Therefore, animal research can not only help us humans, but findings from animal experimentation can also be quite useful when it comes to the treatment of diseases of animals of various sorts.

Some animals have quite similar physiology compared to us humans

Animal research can be quite helpful for finding drugs that help to cure serious diseases. This is due to the fact that many animals have a quite similar physiology compared to us humans and therefore, vaccines or drugs that show positive effects on animals often also show positive effects on us humans.

Thus, animals may be the organisms on our planet that are most similar to us humans and there might simply be no better trial group out there to test new treatment methods.

Important to find treatment for many serious diseases in the future

The state of the world will always be changing and in order to adapt to those changes, it is crucial that also our research continues to improve over time. For instance, there may be some serious diseases in the future of which we currently do not know anything at all.

However, we might be able to use our current research findings in order to apply them to potential diseases in the future. This may give us an edge and we may find suitable treatment faster.

Therefore, we may want to focus on extensive research in the medical field in order to be able to find suitable medicine to cure future diseases. In order to enhance our medical progress, animal testing may be a valid way to do so.

Animal research had been quite helpful in the history of mankind

Animal experimentation has been done for many decades or even centuries. It had been quite helpful over the course of human history to find certain medicines to treat serious diseases in the past and will also be helpful to treat potentially serious diseases in the future.

Taking a look at our history can help us to understand what will happen in the future and this is also true in the area of medicine.

Thus, animal research may significantly help us humans to further improve our medical knowledge and our treatment methods over time.

Lack of suitable alternative testing methods

When it comes to the testing of certain drugs or vaccines, there is simply a lack of suitable alternatives. The only other valid method would be to test drugs in early research stages on us humans.

However, those kinds of treatments may pose significant dangers to the test persons since the effects of many new drugs are not exactly known in early testing stages.

Therefore, if we do not want to be the guinea pig, animal testing might be the only other valid way to go in order to get proper medical research findings.

Disadvantages of Animal Experimentation

  1. Ethical concerns
  2. Animals have to die for our research
  3. May be considered to be cruel
  4. Animal testing may not be acceptable regarding religious aspects
  5. Humans should not play god
  6. Animal testing can be expensive
  7. Animal experimentation may lead to the development of new diseases
  8. May be done in an excessive manner
  9. Benefits from animal testing may be quite limited
  10. Results cannot be transferred from animals on humans 1:1
  11. Animals have to suffer a lot
  12. Strict regulations in some countries
  13. May not be suitable to determine long-term effects
  14. Animal protection rights may prevent animal testing
  15. Findings may be ambiguous
  16. Animal research can be quite inefficient
  17. There might be better alternatives to animal testing in the future

Ethical concerns

The previous analysis has shown that are several advantages related to animal testing. Yet, there are also many issues related to it. One significant problem of animal research is that there are many ethical concerns related to it.

For instance, animals are often treated quite poorly and suffer from quite poor living conditions. This is not only true for the testing itself, but also for their overall conditions since they are often kept in quite narrow spaces.

Moreover, opponents of animal experiments also often claim that we as humans do not have the right to intentionally harm animals from an ethical perspective since they are also living organisms who will suffer from serious pain.

Thus, from an ethical perspective, animal testing can be considered to be rather questionable and there are also many activists who claim that we should completely abandon animal research on a global scale due to that.

Animals have to die for our research

Not only do animals have to suffer from poor living conditions, many of them will also have to die in clinical trials. This is due to the nature of those tests since quite often, the true effects of certain medicines are not yet clear and animals may have to pay the price for this lack of knowledge.

Hence, we also have to sacrifice millions of animals each year for animal testing purposes and this can be also considered to be questionable from an ethical perspective.

May be considered to be cruel

Another downside of animal testing is that many people consider it to be a rather cruel practice. Many people can’t deal with the fact that animals are intentionally poisoned or even have to die solely for the small chance of finding some medical treatments for us humans.

Thus, many people conclude that the cons of animal testing outweigh the pros of this questionable research practice.

Animal testing may not be acceptable regarding religious aspects

Some religions and spiritual practices also often claim that living organisms should be protected whenever we can do so and therefore, animal testing may not be in line with those views on the world at all.

Therefore, also from a religious perspective, animal research can be considered to be quite problematic and may even be illegal in regions where those religions are quite popular.

Humans should not play god

Opponents of animal research often also claim that we as humans should not play god. If we use animals for testing purposes, we may consider ourselves to be in a god-like position since we get the power to decide over the lives of those animals.

Hence, similar to the practice of genetic engineering, animal testing may also not be justifiable since we as humans may never have been meant to play god or to have god-like powers.

Animal testing can be expensive

Apart from the ethical concerns related to animal experimentation, there are also some financial problems related to animal research. Since it requires plenty of manpower and expensive equipment, animal experimentation can be quite costly. In fact, many billions of dollars are spent each year in this field.

Therefore, also from a cost aspect, it may be questionable whether animal testing provides enough benefits to justify those enormous financial efforts.

Animal experimentation may lead to the development of new diseases

If it is done in an improper manner, animal testing may do more harm than good. In fact, some viruses may be able to escape laboratories, which may lead to serious epidemics or even pandemics.

Thus, it is crucial that this kind of research is carried out with great care in order to avoid those unpleasant surprises.

May be done in an excessive manner

Another downside of animal testing is that it may be used in an excessive manner. While it may make sense to use animal experiments from time to time since there are simply no other alternatives, those experiments may not be justifiable on a large scale. In fact, we should always evaluate whether animal testing should be used from an ethical perspective on an individual basis.

However, chances are that standardized processes will lead to a state where animal testing will be the main way to go and that it will be used in an excessive manner that may not be justifiable from an ethical perspective in the long run.

Benefits from animal testing may be quite limited

In many cases, animal testing may not even deliver any useful results at all. In fact, in the majority of cases, the findings from animal testing will be rather useless for the application of drugs for humans.

Hence, this also implies that the majority of animals have to die without even providing a benefit for us humans, which may be considered to be quite sad or even disgusting.

Results cannot be transferred from animals on humans 1:1

Even though animals share many similar characteristics with humans, the results that are obtained in those animal tests are not transferrable to humans 1:1. In fact, many medicines that have been successfully tested on animals have failed to deliver proper results for humans.

Animals have to suffer a lot

Another issue of animal testing is that animals often have to suffer from plenty of pain during the trial period. In fact, researchers often do not care about this aspect at all and it may be rather questionable if we as humans should have the right to treat animals in such a poor manner.

Strict regulations in some countries

Due to strict regulations, animal testing may also not be a viable option in some countries all over the world. Especially in countries where animal testing may contradict with religious aspects, those kinds of tests may even be prohibited by law.

Thus, in those countries, animal testing may not serve as a valid research method and researchers have to find other testing methods instead.

May not be suitable to determine long-term effects

Although animal tests can provide us with a rough estimation regarding how certain medicines will affect human physiology, they might not be suitable to provide us with sufficient knowledge regarding the long-term effects of those drugs.

For instance, a mouse may only live for a few years, while humans live for many decades. Therefore, the long-term effects on humans may not be predictable at all from those animal experiments.

Animal protection rights may prevent animal testing

Some people also claim that animal testing will not be justifiable since there are certain regulations in place that aim to protect the rights of animals on a global scale.

Opponents of animal research often claim that the rights of animals should have a higher priority than potential research findings that could help humanity to cure certain diseases and therefore, animal testing should be completely abandoned.

Findings may be ambiguous

Many research findings related to animal testing are often also quite ambiguous. Researchers often come to several different conclusions regarding the safety and the effectiveness of certain drugs on humans and therefore, the results from animal experiments should be taken with great care in order to avoid serious health issues for humans.

Animal research can be quite inefficient

Since the majority of animal tests will not deliver any useful results for the application of medicines or vaccines on humans, it can also be considered to be quite an inefficient research technique.

There might be better alternatives to animal testing in the future

Since our technological progress is quite rapid, we might be able to find better medical research methods in the future so that we no longer need to rely on animal testing. In turn, this may protect the lives of millions or even billions of animals.

Top 10 Animal Testing Pros & Cons – Summary List

Animal Testing ProsAnimal Testing Cons
May help to increase our life expectancyProblematic from an ethical perspective
Invention of new medicinesAnimal research can be cruel
Better understanding regarding certain bacteriaMay not be justifiable
Animal testing can help to find new vaccinesMany animals have to die
May prevent the spread of pandemicsResults can not be transferred on humans 1:1
Protection of customersStrict regulations may prevent animal testing
May help to find treatment for future diseasesMay be quite inefficient
Had been useful during human historyAnimal experiments can be expensive
May also help for the treatment of animalsLong-term effects still unclear
Lack of alternativesHumans should not play god

Should We Use Animal Research?

Animal testing is a quite controversial topic. Even though there are many advantages of animal research, there are also several problems related to this concept.

Especially from an ethical perspective, animal research may not be justifiable and we as humanity should search for additional research methods in order to make animal testing obsolete in the future.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_testing

https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/what-animal-testing

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animals-used-experimentation-factsheets/animal-experiments-overview/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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