An increasing number of researchers, scientists and practitioners are questioning the use of animals in research on ethical, moral, socio-political and scientific grounds. Use of animal research data to affect change in their patients is rarely used by clinical psychologists. This is certainly a public interest issue as it involves an enormous amount of brutality. Animal research is a very lucrative business, since billions of tax dollars are invested in it annually.
An enormous amount of this money going towards researcher's salaries, overhead costs, animal husbandry expansion and building maintenance. These billions of dollars can be redirected to prevention, public health programs, treatment and clinical research. There are too many missed opportunities for advancement in psychology due to money spent on theoretical, repetitive and exploitative animal research. In our society we have come to see that animal research is an easy way to stay alive in the "publish or perish" world of academia.
Nearly anything can be proven using animals as test subjects which is evident in the way that the tobacco industry still claims that their research proves that cigarettes do not cause cancer. (Linder, 1998). In spite of the fact that animal experimentation can be traced back as far as Galen (ca. 100 AD), its significance in consumer safety and medical research and is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 1865, Claude Bernard published his " introduction to the study of experimental medicine", which marked the beginning of animal experimentation as a scientific method of research. (Menache, 1998).
The industry has always been quick to exploit the less than conclusive results of animal tests, especially in fields such as oncology. Consequently, the drug saccharin remains on sale to the public because it appears to cause bladder cancer only in male rats. The ingest ible contraceptive drug Depo-Provera was banned in the United States over twenty years ago on the basis that is caused cancer in baboons and dogs. However, The Food and Drug Administration and The American Health Regulatory Authority recently reinstated the drug because twenty years of human experience in those countries, which did not prohibit its use, had convinced the Food and Drug Administration that Depo-Provera did not cause cancer in humans. Another example that is even more bizarre is the drug Tamoxifin, which is used to treat human breast cancer. Even though Tamoxifin reduces the incidence of mammary cancer in rodents, it actually increases the presence of liver cancer in rodents, and appears to be also toxic to the kidney (Menache, 1998).
Due to the unavoidable biological differences between human beings and animals, the results of animal tests can't be applied to human beings with any degree of confidence. At the 1989 scientific workshop held at the Ciba Foundation past scientific director of Huntington Research Center (U. K. ) stated that the best guess for the correlation of extreme reactions in man and animal toxicity data is somewhere between 5% and 25%. The information translates into unacceptable risk levels for the general consumer public. To illustrate this point, the General Accounting office in the United Stated reported that between the years 1976-1985, out of two hundred medications introduced over that period of time, 51% were either withdrawn from the market completely or else re-labeled, because of severe side effects not previously noticed.
The Food and Drug Administration has been faulted on animal drug data. In a report to Congress in 1992, the General Accounting Office found that the Food and Drug Administration in many instances did not carry out inspections to verify the accuracy of data given by private laboratories. Due to FDA's incompetent management the agency was unable to fulfill its task to protect the safety and health of animals and people (Menache, 1998). Professional groups of medical doctors, like the Medical Research Modernization Committee, are now at the cutting edge on the scientific movement advocating that animal tests be replaced with the new methodologies. In addition to the priceless contributions to medical science of clinical observation, epidemiology, autopsy studies, non-invasive scanning, we are now entering a new world of technologies involving tissue and organ cultures. Furthermore, what is more important is the increasing availability of tissues of human origin, which will reduce the margin of error even further, while compared with extrapolating results from animal tests to humans (Menache, 1998).
Ever since the Gulf War, an estimated twenty thousand returning U. S. soldiers have been experiencing a series of mysterious illnesses. Symptoms included chronic fatigue, joint pain, rashes, hair loss, memory loss, lack of bowel control and even brain damage. Disturbing reports of miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects and death among the babies conceived by the returning soldiers have also emerged. There is mounting evidence that the Desert Storm Syndrome may be contagious.
It has been learned that the American soldiers were exposed to experimental vaccines, drugs and pesticides. On a daily basis the soldiers were required to take an experimental, anti-nerve drug called Pyridostigmine Bromine. The drug was supposed to be a precautionary measure that would protect the soldiers in case Saddam Hussein engaged in biological, chemical warfare. Additionally, the soldiers were given a powerful insect repellent called DEET and the uniforms were also treated with another pesticide called Permethrin (Supress, 1998). It is obvious that the soldiers were exposed to countless chemicals such as nerve drugs, pesticides, depleted uranium and possible other chemicals that we are not aware of. In addition they were also exposed to experimental vaccines, drugs and pesticides.
We already know why these problems have occurred, and that these chemicals are responsible for these extremely serious health problems. All of the chemicals mentioned above had been tested on different animals prior to their use on the soldiers. Nevertheless, the animal tests were evidently not able to prevent the Gulf War veterans and their children from becoming the real guinea pigs. It is a known fact that the military uses unknown numbers of animals to test all kinds of weapons, including atomic bombs and its chemical and biological weapon arsenal. But it would be a terrible mistake to assume that the military used only animals, and not humans, as guinea pigs. Over the last decades it has been repeatedly revealed that our military has been caught red-handed conducting experiments not only on thousands of unsuspected and no consenting United Stated soldiers but also on American civilians.
During the NBC program Now, entomologist James Moss, PH. D formerly with the United States department of agriculture stated that he wanted to conduct a serious of experiments on rats for the Department of Defense. The intend and purpose of this experiment was to expose the rats to the drugs, chemicals and pesticides that the American soldiers were exposed to in order to see if the rats live or die. Why bother with animal experiments when we already know what happened to human beings? The fact remains that, even if we didn't know what happens to humans, animal experiments will never be able to tell us anything about human conditions. Each species of animal is a different biochemical entity and the results of such studies and experiments can't be extrapolated from one species to another. (Supress, 1998).
Stroke is a dominant cause of sickness and death. However as Dr. Robert Sharpe reports, it's human studies that hold the key to success, not animal studies. Human epidemiological studies have the power to save millions of lives, showing that major advances can be achieved without animal experiments.
Moreover, animal tests have a dubious record in predicting useful drugs to combat the effects of a stroke. Animal researchers indicate that barbiturates could protect against the effects on the stroke, experiments on dogs, rabbits, and monkeys. In human stroke victims, however, barbiturates had little or no protective effect. By comparison, the drug nimodipine can help people with a specific form of a stroke such as sub-arachnoids hemorrhage, but the animal data is conflicting and inconsistent. In application with cats and baboons, for instance, nimodipine produced no overall beneficial effect. Furthermore, as Dr.
Sharpe states: "the leading cause of deaths in patients suffering form sub arachnoid hemorrhage is cerebral vaso spasm, a condition in which the blood vessels in the brain constrict. Human cerebra blood vessels, obtained within twenty-hours of death, have been used to study the problem since little is known about the underlying processes." (Supress, 1998, p. 3). Researchers at the University of Goettingen stress the importance of human tissue since "there are considerable advantage is the possible use of pathologically damaged vessels, for example, from atherosceletoric lesions, which are more difficult to obtain from animals." The researchers conclude that much needed improvements in treatment can be expected from human tissue studies. (Supress, 1998 p. 3).
The Medical Research Modernization Committee (MRM C) has reviewed scores of so-called animals "models" of human diseases and found that they have little or no relevance to human health. Dr. Kaufman explains further that what they found with the study of non-human diseases in non-human animals that it is a fundamentally unsound methodology. (Kaufman, 1998).
Despite animal researchers routinely take credit for virtually every medical advance; a growing number of medical historians are revealing that medical progress has rested on human clinical investigation, not animal research. The most valuable medical research tools are clinical tools, such as autopsies, thorough observation of patient's conditions, tissue biopsies and epidemiology. (Kaufman, 1998) The use of animals for research and testing is only one of many investigative techniques available. Dr.
Barnard believes that although animal experiments are sometimes intellectually attractive, they are poorly suited to addressing the urgent health problems of our era, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, birth defects and AIDS. In addition, animal experiments can mislead researchers or contribute to illness or deaths by failing to predict the toxic effects of drugs. The U. S. General Accounting Office reviewed 198 of the 209 new drugs marketed between years of 1976 and 1985 and found that 52% had "serious post approval risks" not predicted by animal tests or limited human trials. These risks were defined as adverse side effects that could lead to disability, hospitalization or death.
Consequently, these drugs had to be relabeled with new warnings or withdrawn from the market. (Barnard, 1998). Human population studies of HIV infection elucidated how the virus was transmitted and helped guide intervention programs. Using human cells and serum in vitro studies allowed researchers to identify the AIDS virus and establish how it causes disease. Many animals have been used in AIDS research, but without much in the way of concrete results.
For example, the extensively reported monkey studies using the simian immunodeficiency virus (SII V) under unnatural conditions suggested that oral sex presented a transmission risk. However, this study did not help extrapolate whether oral sex transmitted HIV in humans or not. (Barnard, 1998). Experimenters have been infecting chimps with the HIV virus since 1984. In spite of being infected with several different strains of the virus, none have become clinically ill. Experimenters designed treatments to specifically destroy the cells, which are thought to be most active in protecting the body from HIV infections.
In addition to being co -infected with other viruses, which were presumed to help HIV gain a foothold. There are many physiologic and anatomic differences between humans and chimpanzees. These differences make them a poor "model" for humans. The differences in the chimpanzee and the human immune system are dramatic and emphasize the impracticality of using these animals as a model for human AIDS. (Tracher, 1998). To predict human causes for birth defects has relied heavily on animal experiment.
Although, these have typically proved to be embarrassingly poor predictors of what can happen to humans. In nearly all-animal birth defects test, scientists are left scratching their heads as to whether humans are more similar the animals that develop birth defects or like those who do not. The rates for most birth defects are needed to trace possible genetic and environmental factors associated with birth defects, just as population studies linked heart disease to cholesterol and lung cancer to smoking. (Barnard, 1998).
The issue of what role, if any, animal experimentation played in past discoveries in not relevant to what is necessary now for research and safety testing. Prior to scientist developed the cell and tissue cultured common today, animals were routinely used to harbor infectious organisms. But there are few diseased for which this is the case-modern method for vaccine productions are safer and more efficient. Animal toxicity tests to determine the potency of drugs such as digitalis and insulin have largely been replaced with sophisticated laboratory tests that do not involve animals.
(Barnard, 1998). The results of animal tests can't be applied to human beings due to biological, physiological and anatomical differences. In my opinion, we can't rely on misleading and faulty information obtained from animal experiments. Animal experiments put human health in risk and danger. Animal experiments showed to be useless in the past, so why should " we" exploit the animals? Why should we make them suffer and cause unnecessary pain? Good science and scientist is an alternative to animal research.
References Barnard, Neal. D. , (1998). Animal Research Is Wasteful and Misleading.
(On-line). Available: http: // web Kaufman, Stephen. R. , (1998).
Animal Tests Are Inapplicable. (On-line). Available: web Linder, Lorin, (1998). A Time To Re-Evaluate The Use Of Animals In Psychological Research.
(On-line). Available: web Menache, Andre, (1998). Animal Experimentation The Medico-Legal Alibi. (On-line). Available: web Supress, (1998). Desert Storm Syndrome.
(On-line). Available: web Tracher, Wendy, (1998). Tests Results That Don't Apply to Humans. (On-line). Available: web.