The Dark Side of Animal Testing

The Dark Side of Animal Testing

Every year, millions of animals are used in experiments. Mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, and even chickens are all subjected to tests that can include everything from having chemicals pumped into their stomachs to being force-fed drugs until they die. 

And for what? In the United States alone, 91% of experimental drugs that pass animal tests fail in human trials. And of the small percentage that do make it to market, many cause serious side effects in humans that were not anticipated by the animal tests. So why do we continue to test on animals when there is such a large margin for error?

The Origin of Animal Testing

Animal testing began in earnest in the late 19th century with the development of vivisection—a practice that involved cutting into or otherwise injuring live animals for scientific purposes. Vivisection was championed by some of the most famous names in science at the time, including Ivan Pavlov, Marie Curie, and Alexander Fleming. 

For these scientists and many others, animal testing was seen as a necessary evil—a price that had to be paid in order to advance medical knowledge and save lives. That view persisted for much of the 20th century. However, starting in the 1960s, a growing number of people began speaking out against animal testing. Their efforts eventually led to the passage of a number of laws designed to protect animals used in experiments. 

Despite these laws, though, animal testing remains common today. Every year, tens of millions of animals are used in experiments around the world—the vast majority of them mice and rats. Animal advocates argue that these creatures also feel pain and suffering and deserve our protection. They point to Alternatives to Animal Testing (AAT), which includes methods like cell cultures and computer models, as a more humane and effective way to test products. 

However, many scientists maintain that animal testing is still necessary because AAT does not always provide accurate results. They argue that certain experiments can only be conducted on live animals, and that without animal testing we would not have made the medical advances we have over the past century. 

Either way you look at it, animal testing is a controversial issue. There are pros and cons to both sides of the debate. What do you think? Is animal testing morally justifiable if it results in lifesaving medical advances? Or is it always wrong to subject innocent creatures to pain and suffering? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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