Animal testing has long been a means to discover new and safe treatments for humanity. Modern medicines and innovations are constantly being created and updated, creating an ongoing need for ways to test them. There have been many different methods of testing throughout history.
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By the Roman era, dissection and vivisection (the dissection of live animals) were established scientific practices (Fellenz 72). That was a more official part of animal testing history. Although not technically experimenting, people learned how animal bodies worked when they cleaned different creatures for food. This created a foundation for our current knowledge. A lot of the changes to physiology, brought on by William Harvey, were based off of animals that he tested on (Fellenz 72). It was around the nineteenth century that people started standing up for the suffering that was being imposed on nonhuman creatures. This was the first time that the ethics of it had been considered (Fellenz 73). In the United States, the legal control of animal experimentation began in 1966 with the Animal Welfare Act (Fellenz 73). The Animal Welfare Act was created because there was a rising number of pets, such as dogs and cats, that were being used for research without the owner’s permission. This act did not give guidelines for animal testing, but rather it wanted to make sure that the animals were obtained legally (The Animal). There is continual defense of animals today by PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Fellenz 73).
Even though use of animals to further scientific knowledge has been useful, new innovations are being explored to see if they can be replaced with technology. Researchers and oversight boards have to evaluate the relevance of the research question and whether the tools of modern molecular cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, and computational biology can be used in lieu of animals (Ferdowsian). Experimenting can exploit creatures and cause lasting harm. The practices that cause the most pain, like vivisection, have been widely protested as animal cruelty, which is one of the reasons some people want all animal testing to be banned (Fellenz 73). Other types of testing include forcing an animal to contract a disease or restricting access to basic needs (Ferdowsian) Now more thought is being put into the experience the animals are having. Scientists have gained more knowledge of animals’ cognition and how they see the world. They now understand that animals’ do feel pain and sense things similarly to humans. People want these discoveries to be taken into account when considering animal testing. Most nonhuman creatures do understand that they are alive and are aware of things happening around them (Ferdowsian). In the article Ethical and Scientific Considerations Regarding Animal Testing and Research, Hope Ferdowsian says Although pain and suffering are subjective experiences, studies from multiple disciplines provide objective evidence of animals’ abilities to experience pain. This means that people have witnessed animals’ feeling pain. Even with the many objections of using animal subjects, many lifesaving innovations have been created for betterment of mankind.
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