Description: Monkey filmed secretly by PETA in...

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This week there was a protest against animal testing at the university in my home city. The protesters were angry at the university using animals for experiments and research and were demanding the closure of the relevant department. This prompted me to ponder this issue as it’s one that’s usually pretty emotive.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually don’t know where I stand on this issue. Let me explain.

In my opinion there are two types of animal testing. First there is medical research; looking for new drugs and taking place in universities, government labs and commercial labs. It’s this research that leads to the life saving drugs we now take for granted. Within the commercial sector, however, lots of pointless testing occurs. Companies like Huntingdon Life Sciences test countless things like food, chemicals, drugs and gases on animals including rabbits, mice, primates, dogs and many more. These companies will test whatever their clients ask them to. Commercial companies have sewn monkey’s eyes together to “learn” about blindness, opened kitten’s skulls (without pain relief) and severed nerves, given animals cancer, tested shampoo on animal’s eyes, deprived them of sleep and food and goodness knows what else.

I think there is an important difference between these two types of testing. Medical labs are searching for cures for cancer and other terminal diseases, trying to develop better antibiotics and understand biological anatomy and functions. The end-goal of these labs is always to improve the chances and quality of life and while it is drugs for humans they’re searching for it’s important to remember the same drugs are used to help animals.

Most commercial testing is somewhat different though. This industry consists of huge companies paying other huge companies to test whatever they fancy. It is usually in these places that the worst level of cruelty occurs.

Although the fundamentalists would like to convince us otherwise, the reality is that if it wasn’t for animal testing many of the drugs that now save lives (both animal and human) would not exist. Most of us will have contributed to this industry simply by using the medication it has produced, so it is paradoxical to criticise something we benefit from. It is seemingly impossible to remove ourselves from this without refusing all forms of medical treatment. Indeed, many of the things we eat have also been tested on animals without us ever knowing so it extends to our food also. I can’t commit to never receiving painkillers or drugs that may save my life so I cannot, therefore, completely denounce these practices without feeling like a hypocrite. You can’t, with one breath, condemn the testers as murderers, and with the other swallow those antibiotic pills that have been tested on animals. It’s like saying you think it’s appalling to eat animals then tucking into a steak; or moaning about drug dealers destroying the world and then shooting up a syringe of smack. You can’t have your cake and eat it, and many of those on the animal testing bandwagon want to do just that.

It is these contradictions in my conscience that make me struggle to decide my position. On the one hand I see the benefit; I know I have benefited from drugs which will have been tested on animals. I can understand and sympathise with the argument that one monkey’s life in exchange for drugs that will save millions of lives is worth it. On the other hand, we are all animals on this planet; what gives us the right to exert dominion over the other animals?

I’ve been sickened by some of the footage of animal testing I’ve seen and it’s horrible to watch. We’ve created a world of advanced drugs and constantly praise modern medicine for it’s life saving capabilities. But we’ve done this at the expense of animals. We can’t hide from this fact and we must acknowledge it. Medicine and the animals we test it on are inextricably woven. We’ve relied on the animals to get us where we are.

But the world we live in is changing. We believe in liberalism and freedom for all and society is calling for this to be extended to animals. Many animals are far more intelligent and conscious than we’ve ever given them credit for and we must learn to give them the same compassion we expect ourselves.

If we wish to continue the expectation we’ve put in medicine to save our lives, without it being at the expense of innocent animals, then we have to come up with an alternative to animal testing.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The ALF. The ALF said: #ALF Where Do I Stand On The Animal Testing Debate? « The Mind Of An <b>…</b> […]

  2. […] In a previous post I wrote about animal testing and my thoughts on it. Today I read the story of Liam, a dog rescued […]

  3. vicky says:

    i am a animal lovely.i hat it when people hart animals,
    i want to do some thing do about animal testing,
    i need something info how to pro-test….

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