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14 Pros and Cons of Animal Research

Animal research is the process of using non-human animals to control variables that may affect biological systems or behaviors in experiments. It is the process of animal testing that is done under the guise of research to benefit humanity, but the applied research may have little or no concern to the animals involved.

Up to 100 million animals, from fish to chimpanzees, may be used every year for the purpose of animal research. Reptiles, amphibians, fish, rats, and mice make up about 85% of the testing population in any given year.

The advantage of animal research is that it puts no human lives at risk. Experiments can take place to determine if a product or idea will work as intended. If it does, then it can be tested on humans with a lower risk of a negative outcome.

The disadvantage of animal research is that it lessens the value of life. Most animals, once the testing process has been completed, are euthanized. Many of those animals are purposely bred for the experiments being performed as well, which means millions of animals are at a higher risk of suffering from abuse or neglect in a field that is often poorly regulated.

Here are some of the additional pros and cons of animal research to discuss.

What Are the Pros of Animal Research?

1. It has led to several medical advancements for humans. The British Royal Society has released a statement regarding animal research, noting that almost every 20th century medical achievement relied on the use of animals in some way during the development process. Because it cannot be fully replaced by computer simulations or models, the argument is that live testing will continue to be needed.

2. It enhances the safety of the products being released. Animal testing helps to lessen the risk of an unplanned event occurring when humans use or ingest the products that are part of the animal testing experiment. Drugs can be potentially and immediately harmful to humans, especially during the testing phase of a product, so animal testing allows for researchers to determine the quality and safety of a product before humans take it.

3. There are no other testing alternatives. Animals are the closest thing to humans on our planet. If one assumes that human life is more valuable than animal life, then performing experiments on animals makes sense because it offers the chance to explore how the various living systems within a body may react when exposed to a test sample. Animals and humans share numerous systems, including the central nervous system, and the data collected can be used to improve products.

4. Some animals are almost carbon copies of humans. The reason why mice are frequently used in animal research is that their genetic profile is 98% similar to humans. Chimpanzees were popular to use in the past, and still are in some areas of the world, because their genetic profile is 99% similar to a human. With similar organs, circulatory systems, and reactions to an illness, researchers can look at how animals react and be able to make comfortable prediction about how humans might react.

5. It offers a different set of legalities. Testing humans with invasive experiments could result in death. Although there will always be a risk when testing new items, even after animal research has provided positive data, the risks to a human without animal research would be incredibly high. Through animal research, the legality of accidentally causing the death of an animal is very different than what would occur with the accidental death of a human.

6. It provides an opportunity to examine a complete life cycle. In many countries, the average life expectancy of a human exceeds 70 years of age. Some nations have an average life expectancy of over 80 years. In comparison, a mouse has a lifespan of 2-3 years, allowing researchers the opportunity to study through research and experimentation how something may affect the life cycle. Any long-term research involves mice and rats because of this unique aspect to the research.

7. There are protections in place for the animals. Although animal research may have ethical concerns, the US has regulated its practice since 1966. Veterinarians are required to inspect the living conditions of the animals. Committees must approve animal research and be held responsible for the humane treatment of each animal. Access to food and water is mandatory, as are shelters that follow minimum sizing standards.

What Are the Cons of Animal Research?

1. Many of the items that are tested are never used. Animal testing may provide safety benefits for new products, but some of the items that are tested will never be used. That means animals will likely be sacrificing their lives to determine the safety of a product that a human will never even know was being developed. With no direct societal benefit produced, what is the benefit of an animal suffering from the testing process?

2. It can be an expensive practice. Caring for an animal requires a large investment. Some of the animals that are used for testing are bought at auction or taken from the wild, which brings additional costs into the process. According to Petfinder, the total cost of caring for a single dog could be over $9,000 per year. Even at the low end of the scale, the car cost is over $500. Now multiple those costs over an entire laboratory and the cost of animal research becomes very high, very quickly.

3. It may not offer valid results. The structure of an animal’s body is very different from the structure of a human’s body. That means animal research can be more unreliable than even researchers claim it may be. Several drugs have passed animal testing, but have been found to be harmful to humans. In 2004, the FDA estimated that 92% of drugs that pass their pre-clinical tests, including animal research, fail to reach the market. Recent data suggests that failure rates from animal research to human research could be even higher, at 96%, according to the NIH. Nearly 100 vaccines for HIV showed potential in primates, but failed in humans. That means the results that animal research can produce may not even be valid.

4. Many facilities are exempt from animal welfare laws. About 4% of the animals that are involved in ongoing research projects are covered by animal welfare laws. That means there are more than 20 million animals who could be at a high risk of abuse or neglect in the name of research. Even when the facilities are in compliance with the law, they are governed by committees that are self-appointed and only a direct inspection of the facility would let someone know there are issues going on.

5. Animals don’t need to be the “only” method of research. Although testing living tissues will be beneficial compared to computer simulations for the recent future, there are methods of research that can involve living tissues that don’t put the lives of animals at risk. From living cell lines to cultures and other forms of cell harvesting, there are possibilities available. A cell line from cervical cancer cells taken in 1951 is still being researched, even though the individual died from that cancer in the same year.

6. Poor research practices invalidate the data obtained. Data discrepancies are not the only issue that face animal research transitioning to human research. When poor research practices are used, the data that is obtained could be invalidated. There is also the possibility that poor research practices could create false positive data that could then place human lives at risk. Unless there is accurate and complete oversight over the current field of animal research, this threat to the data will always exist.

7. Reverse data can also be a problem with animal research. There are drugs and products that could be harmful to animals, but highly beneficial to humans, and the current state of research priority would make it extremely difficult to know if this was the case. Animal testing occurs before human testing. An example of this issue is aspirin. It is a dangerous product for animals to have, but think of the millions of lives that have been improved or saved because of the drug. Insulin causes animal birth defects, but it saves lives every day. That is the reality of animal research.

The pros and cons of animal research will always be controversial. Testing animals to see if a product is safe may be better than testing humans first, but that also means the life of an animal is devalued. On the other hand, more animals are butchered for food every year than are used in animal experimentation, so the ethics of life value are more of a gray area than distinctly black and white.

How do you feel about the process of animal research?

Ethical care for research animals

WHY ANIMAL RESEARCH?

The use of animals in some forms of biomedical research remains essential to the discovery of the causes, diagnoses, and treatment of disease and suffering in humans and in animals., stanford shares the public's concern for laboratory research animals..

Many people have questions about animal testing ethics and the animal testing debate. We take our responsibility for the ethical treatment of animals in medical research very seriously. At Stanford, we emphasize that the humane care of laboratory animals is essential, both ethically and scientifically.  Poor animal care is not good science. If animals are not well-treated, the science and knowledge they produce is not trustworthy and cannot be replicated, an important hallmark of the scientific method .

There are several reasons why the use of animals is critical for biomedical research: 

••  Animals are biologically very similar to humans. In fact, mice share more than 98% DNA with us!

••  Animals are susceptible to many of the same health problems as humans – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

••  With a shorter life cycle than humans, animal models can be studied throughout their whole life span and across several generations, a critical element in understanding how a disease processes and how it interacts with a whole, living biological system.

The ethics of animal experimentation

Nothing so far has been discovered that can be a substitute for the complex functions of a living, breathing, whole-organ system with pulmonary and circulatory structures like those in humans. Until such a discovery, animals must continue to play a critical role in helping researchers test potential new drugs and medical treatments for effectiveness and safety, and in identifying any undesired or dangerous side effects, such as infertility, birth defects, liver damage, toxicity, or cancer-causing potential.

U.S. federal laws require that non-human animal research occur to show the safety and efficacy of new treatments before any human research will be allowed to be conducted.  Not only do we humans benefit from this research and testing, but hundreds of drugs and treatments developed for human use are now routinely used in veterinary clinics as well, helping animals live longer, healthier lives.

It is important to stress that 95% of all animals necessary for biomedical research in the United States are rodents – rats and mice especially bred for laboratory use – and that animals are only one part of the larger process of biomedical research.

Our researchers are strong supporters of animal welfare and view their work with animals in biomedical research as a privilege.

Stanford researchers are obligated to ensure the well-being of all animals in their care..

Stanford researchers are obligated to ensure the well-being of animals in their care, in strict adherence to the highest standards, and in accordance with federal and state laws, regulatory guidelines, and humane principles. They are also obligated to continuously update their animal-care practices based on the newest information and findings in the fields of laboratory animal care and husbandry.  

Researchers requesting use of animal models at Stanford must have their research proposals reviewed by a federally mandated committee that includes two independent community members.  It is only with this committee’s approval that research can begin. We at Stanford are dedicated to refining, reducing, and replacing animals in research whenever possible, and to using alternative methods (cell and tissue cultures, computer simulations, etc.) instead of or before animal studies are ever conducted.

brown mouse on blue gloved hand

Organizations and Resources

There are many outreach and advocacy organizations in the field of biomedical research.

  • Learn more about outreach and advocacy organizations

Two researchers in lab looking through microscopes

Stanford Discoveries

What are the benefits of using animals in research? Stanford researchers have made many important human and animal life-saving discoveries through their work. 

  • Learn more about research discoveries at Stanford

Small brown mouse - Stanford research animal

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research on animals pros and cons

  • The Debate on Animal Experimentation
  • Medical Advancement: Research done on animals can save countless human lives. It has already led to the discovery of insulin and hepatitis C; vaccines against polio and hepatitis B; and procedures such as open heart surgeries, coronary bypass surgery, and heart transplantation. Many animals, especially primates, share about 90% of their genetic make-ups with humans, so experimenting on such animals can give scientists a good idea about possible reactions in the human body. Further, new medicines can help animals too, since breakthroughs in veterinary medicine have also occurred due to animal experimentation.
  • Product Safety: Animal testing helps ensure the safety of drugs and other substances that humans may be exposed to on a daily basis, such as cosmetics. It helps minimize the chances of adverse human reactions, such as rash, itching, or even death, during human clinical trials. Animals used for such safety testing are usually not killed and remain relatively healthy. Furthermore, animals such as mice and rabbits usually reproduce very quickly.

Cons to Animal Testing

  • Pain, Suffering, and Death: Most companies claim that no animals were hurt during animal experimentation, but there nonetheless exists a shadow of doubt. Testing potentially includes the jabbing of needles, storage into cramped spaces, and lack of quality/quantity in nutrition. Some animals may die over the course of the experiment or be killed after their use, and others may lose their limbs, eyesight, hearing, muscle coordination, and so on. In some cases, many of the substances tested may never even see approval of public consumption and use; thus, these animals may have undergone such treatment in vain, seeing that no direct benefit to humans occurred.
  • Ethics: Since animals cannot volunteer themselves for testing and cannot voice their opinions, some people believe that it is only ethical to test on subjects who willingly give their consent for self testing.
  • Price: Animal testing is expensive, as one must pay for food, housing, and maintenance, as well as the initial cost of breeding/buying the animal. This is a cost that may reoccur over the course of several months, even years.
  • Accuracy: Although testing on animals are the best alternative to actual humans, there is still an important margin of error, and some people still believe animal testing to be unreliable. A reason for this, other than genetic makeup, is that the animals are kept in an unnatural environment (the laboratory) that places them under stress, which may alter their response.

All in all, both sides of animal testing seems to tilt the scales equally. Animal testing may save millions of human lives, but at the expense of the lives of animals. In the end, taking the pros and cons into consideration, animal testing highlights the fine line between ethics and practical need, and the ultimate decision is subjective to the values of each individual.

Article by Sherry Jiaa

Feature Image Source: Science 

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29 Major Pros & Cons Of Animal Testing

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

Connie Sellecca, Actress

Advantages & Disadvantages 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.

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

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Advantages of animal testing, better understanding regarding certain bacteria and viruses, can help to cure diseases, may be useful to treat future pandemics, new vaccines, animal testing can help to save many lives, can increase our overall life expectancy, safety improvements for customers, not only useful for humanity, some animals have quite similar physiology compared to us humans, important to find treatment for many serious diseases in the future, animal research had been quite helpful in the history of mankind, lack of suitable alternative testing methods.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

research on animals pros and cons

Disadvantages of Animal Experimentation

Ethical concerns, animals have to die for our research, may be considered to be cruel, animal testing may not be acceptable regarding religious aspects, humans should not play god, animal testing can be expensive, animal experimentation may lead to the development of new diseases, may be done in an excessive manner, benefits from animal testing may be quite limited, results cannot be transferred from animals on humans 1:1, animals have to suffer a lot, strict regulations in some countries, may not be suitable to determine long-term effects, animal protection rights may prevent animal testing, findings may be ambiguous, animal research can be quite inefficient, there might be better alternatives to animal testing in the future.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

research on animals pros and cons

Top 10 Animal Testing Pros & Cons – Summary List

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.

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/

research on animals pros and cons

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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Research using animals: an overview

Around half the diseases in the world have no treatment. Understanding how the body works and how diseases progress, and finding cures, vaccines or treatments, can take many years of painstaking work using a wide range of research techniques. There is overwhelming scientific consensus worldwide that some research using animals is still essential for medical progress.

Animal research in the UK is strictly regulated. For more details on the regulations governing research using animals, go to the UK regulations page .

mouse being handled

Why is animal research necessary?

There is overwhelming scientific consensus worldwide that some animals are still needed in order to make medical progress.

Where animals are used in research projects, they are used as part of a range of scientific techniques. These might include human trials, computer modelling, cell culture, statistical techniques, and others. Animals are only used for parts of research where no other techniques can deliver the answer.

A living body is an extraordinarily complex system. You cannot reproduce a beating heart in a test tube or a stroke on a computer. While we know a lot about how a living body works, there is an enormous amount we simply don’t know: the interaction between all the different parts of a living system, from molecules to cells to systems like respiration and circulation, is incredibly complex. Even if we knew how every element worked and interacted with every other element, which we are a long way from understanding, a computer hasn’t been invented that has the power to reproduce all of those complex interactions - while clearly you cannot reproduce them all in a test tube.

While humans are used extensively in Oxford research, there are some things which it is ethically unacceptable to use humans for. There are also variables which you can control in a mouse (like diet, housing, clean air, humidity, temperature, and genetic makeup) that you could not control in human subjects.

Is it morally right to use animals for research?

Most people believe that in order to achieve medical progress that will save and improve lives, perhaps millions of lives, limited and very strictly regulated animal use is justified. That belief is reflected in the law, which allows for animal research only under specific circumstances, and which sets out strict regulations on the use and care of animals. It is right that this continues to be something society discusses and debates, but there has to be an understanding that without animals we can only make very limited progress against diseases like cancer, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and HIV.

It’s worth noting that animal research benefits animals too: more than half the drugs used by vets were developed originally for human medicine. 

Aren’t animals too different from humans to tell us anything useful?

No. Just by being very complex living, moving organisms they share a huge amount of similarities with humans. Humans and other animals have much more in common than they have differences. Mice share over 90% of their genes with humans. A mouse has the same organs as a human, in the same places, doing the same things. Most of their basic chemistry, cell structure and bodily organisation are the same as ours. Fish and tadpoles share enough characteristics with humans to make them very useful in research. Even flies and worms are used in research extensively and have led to research breakthroughs (though these species are not regulated by the Home Office and are not in the Biomedical Sciences Building).

What does research using animals actually involve?

The sorts of procedures research animals undergo vary, depending on the research. Breeding a genetically modified mouse counts as a procedure and this represents a large proportion of all procedures carried out. So does having an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, something which is painless and which humans undergo for health checks. In some circumstances, being trained to go through a maze or being trained at a computer game also counts as a procedure. Taking blood or receiving medication are minor procedures that many species of animal can be trained to do voluntarily for a food reward. Surgery accounts for only a small minority of procedures. All of these are examples of procedures that go on in Oxford's Biomedical Sciences Building. 

Mouse pups

How many animals are used?

Figures for 2023 show numbers of animals that completed procedures, as declared to the Home Office using their five categories for the severity of the procedure.

# NHPs - Non Human Primates

Oxford also maintains breeding colonies to provide animals for use in experiments, reducing the need for unnecessary transportation of animals.

Figures for 2017 show numbers of animals bred for procedures that were killed or died without being used in procedures:

Why must primates be used?

Primates account for under half of one per cent (0.5%) of all animals housed in the Biomedical Sciences Building. They are only used where no other species can deliver the research answer, and we continually seek ways to replace primates with lower orders of animal, to reduce numbers used, and to refine their housing conditions and research procedures to maximise welfare.

However, there are elements of research that can only be carried out using primates because their brains are closer to human brains than mice or rats. They are used at Oxford in vital research into brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some are used in studies to develop vaccines for HIV and other major infections.

Primate in lab

What is done to primates?

The primates at Oxford spend most of their time in their housing. They are housed in groups with access to play areas where they can groom, forage for food, climb and swing.

Primates at Oxford involved in neuroscience studies would typically spend a couple of hours a day doing behavioural work. This is sitting in front of a computer screen doing learning and memory games for food rewards. No suffering is involved and indeed many of the primates appear to find the games stimulating. They come into the transport cage that takes them to the computer room entirely voluntarily.

After some time (a period of months) demonstrating normal learning and memory through the games, a primate would have surgery to remove a very small amount of brain tissue under anaesthetic. A full course of painkillers is given under veterinary guidance in the same way as any human surgical procedure, and the animals are up and about again within hours, and back with their group within a day. The brain damage is minor and unnoticeable in normal behaviour: the animal interacts normally with its group and exhibits the usual natural behaviours. In order to find out about how a disease affects the brain it is not necessary to induce the equivalent of full-blown disease. Indeed, the more specific and minor the brain area affected, the more focussed and valuable the research findings are.

The primate goes back to behavioural testing with the computers and differences in performance, which become apparent through these carefully designed games, are monitored.

At the end of its life the animal is humanely killed and its brain is studied and compared directly with the brains of deceased human patients. 

Primates at Oxford involved in vaccine studies would simply have a vaccination and then have monthly blood samples taken.

Housing for primates

How many primates does Oxford hold?

* From 2014 the Home Office changed the way in which animals/ procedures were counted. Figures up to and including 2013 were recorded when procedures began. Figures from 2014 are recorded when procedures end.

What’s the difference between ‘total held’ and ‘on procedure’?

Primates (macaques) at Oxford would typically spend a couple of hours a day doing behavioural work, sitting in front of a computer screen doing learning and memory games for food rewards. This is non-invasive and done voluntarily for food rewards and does not count as a procedure. After some time (a period of months) demonstrating normal learning and memory through the games, a primate would have surgery under anaesthetic to remove a very small amount of brain tissue. The primate quickly returns to behavioural testing with the computers, and differences in performance, which become apparent through these carefully designed puzzles, are monitored. A primate which has had this surgery is counted as ‘on procedure’. Both stages are essential for research into understanding brain function which is necessary to develop treatments for conditions including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.

Why has the overall number held gone down?

Numbers vary year on year depending on the research that is currently undertaken. In general, the University is committed to reducing, replacing and refining animal research.

You say primates account for under 0.5% of animals, so that means you have at least 16,000 animals in the Biomedical Sciences Building in total - is that right?

Numbers change daily so we cannot give a fixed figure, but it is in that order.

Aren’t there alternative research methods?

There are very many non-animal research methods, all of which are used at the University of Oxford and many of which were pioneered here. These include research using humans; computer models and simulations; cell cultures and other in vitro work; statistical modelling; and large-scale epidemiology. Every research project which uses animals will also use other research methods in addition. Wherever possible non-animal research methods are used. For many projects, of course, this will mean no animals are needed at all. For others, there will be an element of the research which is essential for medical progress and for which there is no alternative means of getting the relevant information.

How have humans benefited from research using animals?

As the Department of Health states, research on animals has contributed to almost every medical advance of the last century.

Without animal research, medicine as we know it today wouldn't exist. It has enabled us to find treatments for cancer, antibiotics for infections (which were developed in Oxford laboratories), vaccines to prevent some of the most deadly and debilitating viruses, and surgery for injuries, illnesses and deformities.

Life expectancy in this country has increased, on average, by almost three months for every year of the past century. Within the living memory of many people diseases such as polio, tuberculosis, leukaemia and diphtheria killed or crippled thousands every year. But now, doctors are able to prevent or treat many more diseases or carry out life-saving operations - all thanks to research which at some stage involved animals.

Each year, millions of people in the UK benefit from treatments that have been developed and tested on animals. Animals have been used for the development of blood transfusions, insulin for diabetes, anaesthetics, anticoagulants, antibiotics, heart and lung machines for open heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, transplantation, high blood pressure medication, replacement heart valves, chemotherapy for leukaemia and life support systems for premature babies. More than 50 million prescriptions are written annually for antibiotics. 

We may have used animals in the past to develop medical treatments, but are they really needed in the 21st century?

Yes. While we are committed to reducing, replacing and refining animal research as new techniques make it possible to reduce the number of animals needed, there is overwhelming scientific consensus worldwide that some research using animals is still essential for medical progress. It only forms one element of a whole research programme which will use a range of other techniques to find out whatever possible without animals. Animals would be used for a specific element of the research that cannot be conducted in any alternative way.

How will humans benefit in future?

The development of drugs and medical technologies that help to reduce suffering among humans and animals depends on the carefully regulated use of animals for research. In the 21st century scientists are continuing to work on treatments for cancer, stroke, heart disease, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s, and very many more diseases that cause suffering and death. Genetically modified mice play a crucial role in future medical progress as understanding of how genes are involved in illness is constantly increasing. 

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Pros And Cons Of Animal Research For Breed Developers & Pet Owners

Posted by Frank E. Ward | Jul 28, 2023 | Research | 0 |

Pros And Cons Of Animal Research For Breed Developers & Pet Owners

Animal research has long been debated and scrutinized, raising questions about its ethical implications and scientific validity. The pros and cons of animal research in the context of breed development and pet ownership present a complex and multifaceted discussion.

On the one hand, animal research has been instrumental in advancing breeding techniques. It also includes genetic improvement and disease prevention in animals. And it leads to the development of healthier and more resilient breeds.

It has also enhanced our understanding of animal behavior, allowing breeders to create breeds with desirable temperaments. Additionally, animal research has contributed to developing reproductive techniques, tailored training methods, and effective pet medication.

However, concerns surrounding animal welfare, ethical considerations, limitations in generalizability, and the potential for harm cannot be overlooked. Careful consideration of the pros and cons is necessary to ensure responsible and ethical practices in animal research, striking a balance between scientific progress and animal well-being.

The Pros And Cons Of Animal Research

Table of Contents

What Do You Understand By Animal Research?

What Do You Understand By Animal Research

Animal research for breed developers and pet owners involves the study of animal genetics, behavior, and health to create and improve specific breeds for domestication. This research helps breeders understand the genetic makeup of animals, their behavior patterns, and any potential health issues they may face.

By studying animal behavior and health, breed developers and pet owners can make informed decisions about breeding practices, diet, and healthcare. Additionally, animal research provides insight into developing new therapies and treatments for animal diseases, ultimately improving the health and well-being of pets and their owners.

Breed Developers And Pet Owners Should Know The Pros And Cons Of Animal Research.

Breed Developers And Pet Owners Should Know The Pros And Cons Of Animal Research

Both breed developers and pet owners should be aware of the benefits and limitations of animal research in order to make informed decisions about their animals’ health and care. However, it is important to also consider the ethical implications of animal research and to prioritize the well-being of the animals involved.

By understanding the role of animal research, breed developers and pet owners can make informed decisions to improve the lives of their animals. Here is a step-by-step explanation of the pros and cons of animal research:

Pors Of Animal Research

Pors Of Animal Research

Animal research plays an essential role in breed development and pet care. Through research, scientists gain insights into animal behavior, genetics, and physiology that aid in the development of new breeds and the improvement of existing ones.

Additionally, animal research helps in the discovery and testing of medications, treatments, and vaccines that enhance the health and well-being of pets.

Advancement In Animal Breeding Techniques Through Research

Advancement In Animal Breeding Techniques Through Research

Animal research has led to significant advancements in breeding techniques, such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer, and genetic engineering. These techniques enable breeders to select desired traits, enhance genetic diversity, and improve the overall quality of breeds. Research plays a crucial role in developing innovative methods that ensure efficient and effective breeding practices for the benefit of breeders and pet owners.

Enhanced Understanding Of Animal Behavior And Temperament

Through extensive research, a deeper understanding of animal behavior and temperament has been gained. Studies have elucidated how genetics, environment, and social interactions influence behavior in different breeds.

This knowledge helps breeders develop breeds with desirable behavioral traits, ensuring compatibility with owners’ lifestyles. Pet owners benefit from this understanding by being able to provide appropriate training, enrichment, and care that aligns with their pets’ specific behavioral needs.

Research For Breeds Suitable For Specific Purposes (Service Dogs)

Animal research plays a crucial role in identifying and developing breeds suitable for specific purposes, such as service dogs. Through extensive studies, researchers evaluate breeds for traits like intelligence, temperament, and trainability.

Ensuring they excel in tasks like mobility assistance, guide work, or therapy. This research enables breeders and pet owners to make informed decisions, resulting in highly trained and reliable service dogs that enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Tailored Training And Behavioral Modification Techniques

Animal research contributes to the development of tailored training and behavioral modification techniques that effectively address behavioral issues in pets. Through scientific studies, researchers identify effective methods.

Such as positive reinforcement and desensitization, to modify undesirable behaviors and promote positive ones. This research helps pet owners and trainers employ evidence-based strategies that enhance the well-being and behavior of their pets, leading to harmonious human-animal relationships.

Development Of Healthier And More Resilient Breeds

Animal research has played a pivotal role in the development of healthier and more resilient breeds. Through careful breeding and genetic studies, researchers have been able to identify and eliminate inherited diseases, improving overall breed health. This research ensures that pet owners can enjoy the companionship of robust and thriving animals.

Improved Lifespan And Quality Of Life For Pets

Improved Lifespan And Quality Of Life For Pets

Animal research has contributed to extending the lifespan and enhancing the quality of life for pets. By studying factors like nutrition, exercise, and preventive care, researchers have developed guidelines that promote longevity and well-being. Through this research, pet owners can provide their beloved animals with a longer, happier, and healthier life.

Animal Research And Animal Training

Animal Research And Animal Training

Animal research has significantly informed the field of animal training. Studies have helped trainers understand the cognitive abilities, learning processes, and social dynamics of different species.

This knowledge allows for the development of effective training techniques that enhance communication, obedience, and cooperation between animals and their trainers. Improving training outcomes and strengthening the human-animal bond.

Enhanced Reproductive Techniques And Fertility

Animal research has revolutionized reproductive techniques and fertility management in animals. Researchers have developed assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, and semen preservation, enabling breeders to enhance breeding success rates, preserve valuable genetics, and overcome reproductive challenges. This research has opened new possibilities for breeders in achieving their breeding goals and maintaining genetic diversity.

Evaluation Of Nutritional Requirements And Diet Optimization

Animal research plays a vital role in evaluating the nutritional needs of different breeds and species, leading to diet optimization. Through controlled studies, researchers assess the impact of various nutrients on growth, metabolism, and overall health.

This research enables pet owners to provide well-balanced diets that meet their pets’ specific nutritional requirements, promoting optimal health and vitality.

Identification And Management Of Environmental Sensitivities

Animal research has helped in identifying and managing environmental sensitivities in pets. Through controlled exposure studies, researchers have identified triggers for allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.

This knowledge allows pet owners to create safe and supportive environments, and avoid allergens. And implement management strategies that alleviate discomfort and improve the well-being of their pets.

Understanding Of Zoonotic Diseases And Transmission Prevention

Animal research has contributed significantly to our understanding of zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted between animals and humans. Researchers study the epidemiology, transmission routes, and prevention methods for diseases like rabies, influenza, and Lyme disease. This research helps in developing effective prevention strategies. Such as vaccinations and public health measures, safeguarding both pets and their owners.

Development Of Safe And Effective Medications For Pets

Development Of Safe And Effective Medications For Pets

Animal research has been instrumental in developing safe and effective medications for pets. Studies involving animals help researchers assess medications’ efficacy, dosage, and potential side effects, ensuring their safety before being administered to pets. This research allows veterinarians to prescribe appropriate treatments, manage diseases, and alleviate suffering in pets, ultimately improving their health outcomes.

Enhanced Understanding Of Aging And Geriatric Care In Pets

Animal research has deepened our understanding of aging and geriatric care in pets. Through longitudinal studies, researchers examine the physiological changes, age-related diseases, and cognitive decline in aging animals. This knowledge enables veterinarians and pet owners to implement tailored healthcare, preventive measures. And enriching interventions that promote healthy aging, improve quality of life, and support the unique needs of senior pets.

Cons Of Animal Research

Cons Of Animal Research

The use of animals in research for breed development and pet care has long been a topic of controversy. While some argue that it is necessary for scientific advancements and animal health betterment, others believe it is cruel and unnecessary.

The debate centers around the ethical considerations of using animals for research purposes and the effectiveness of such research. Despite the controversy, animal research remains a common practice in the pet care industry.

With many companies relying on it to develop new products and treatments. As the debate continues, it is important for individuals to educate themselves on the issue and make informed decisions about their consumption and support of animal-based products and research.

Ethical concerns: Animal research involves using living creatures for scientific purposes, which raises ethical concerns about the treatment of animals. Some argue that it is cruel to subject animals to experimentation and violates their rights.

Inaccurate results: Animals may not always be good models for human diseases and conditions, and findings from animal studies may not necessarily translate to human beings. Thus, research on animals may not always produce accurate or reliable results.

High costs: Animal research can be expensive. It involves the care and housing of many animals and the cost of conducting experiments. This can be a significant burden on research institutions and government agencies.

Which Organization Conducts Regular Research On Pets?

Numerous organizations conduct regular research on pets worldwide. Some prominent examples include universities with veterinary and animal science programs.  Government agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), veterinary pharmaceutical companies.

And animal welfare organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). And research institutions dedicated to animal health and well-being include the Morris Animal Foundation and the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition. These organizations strive to advance knowledge and improve the lives of pets through scientific research.

How Does It Help Understand Animal Behavior And Physiology?

Animal research plays a vital role in helping us understand animal behavior and physiology. By studying animals in controlled environments, researchers can observe and measure various aspects of their behavior and physical functions.

This information can then be used to draw conclusions about how animals behave and function in their natural habitats. Additionally, animal research can help us to develop new treatments and therapies for human diseases and conditions, as many physiological processes are similar across species.

How It Helps In Advancing Scientific Knowledge

How It Helps In Advancing Scientific Knowledge

It allows scientists to study and understand biological processes that can’t be studied in humans, such as the development of diseases and the effects of new treatments.

Animal studies provide valuable insights into the safety and efficacy of new drugs, vaccines, and medical devices before they are tested in humans. Animal research also helps to develop new surgical techniques and therapies that improve human health. However, ensuring that animal research is conducted ethically and with the utmost care for the animals involved is essential.

The pros and cons of animal research for breed developers and pet owners present a complex and challenging landscape . The importance of animal research in advancing breeding techniques, genetic improvement, and disease prevention cannot be denied.

It has provided invaluable insights into animal behavior, leading to the development of breeds with desirable temperaments and enhancing the quality of pet ownership.

Additionally, animal research has contributed to reproductive advancements, tailored training methods, and the development of safe medications for pets. However, ethical concerns, animal welfare considerations, and limitations in generalizability remain significant challenges.

It is crucial to approach animal research with sensitivity, ensuring the well-being of animals while striving for scientific progress. Striking a balance between animal research’s benefits and potential drawbacks is essential for breeds’ responsible and ethical development and the betterment of pet care practices.

1.How Does Animal Research Impact The Development Of New Breeds?

Ans: Animal research can provide valuable insights into genetic traits and health issues that can inform the development of new breeds with specific desired characteristics.

2.What Are The Potential Risks Of Relying On Animal Research For Breed Development?

Ans: Relying solely on animal research to develop new breeds can lead to a narrow focus on certain traits or characteristics, potentially overlooking other important factors like temperament, behaviour, and overall health.

3.How Does Animal Research Inform Pet Care And Treatment?

Ans: Animal research can inform the development of new treatments and medications for pets, as well as provide insights into general care and nutrition.

4.What Are The Limitations Of Animal Research In Informing Pet Care And Treatment?

Ans: Animal research may not always accurately predict outcomes for individual pets, and results may not be generalizable to all breeds or species.

5.How Do Ethical Concerns Around Animal Research Impact Breed Developers And Pet Owners?

Ans: Ethical concerns around animal research can impact the public perception of breed developers and pet owners who rely on animal testing, potentially leading to negative associations and public backlash.

Frank E. Ward

Aquarium passion is all about connecting with the aquatic life and providing education to the public on the importance of these creatures. We showcase a wide variety of marine life through our exhibits as well as working with schools to provide unique learning opportunities for students of all ages.

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Opinion Front

Opinion Front

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Using Animals in Research

Debates have roared in the medical fraternity related to animal research since ages. Have we achieved milestones in curing diseases by testing and killing meek animals? Are such medical breakthroughs worth their lives? If animals can't speak, does it mean that we can use them as we wish, just because we're powerful? This article throws light on these various issues.

Animal Research Pros and Cons

Debates have roared in the medical fraternity related to animal research since ages. Have we achieved milestones in curing diseases by testing and killing meek animals? Are such medical breakthroughs worth their lives? If animals can’t speak, does it mean that we can use them as we wish, just because we’re powerful? This article throws light on these various issues.

Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the cost of human character. ~ George Bernard Shaw

When I look into the eyes of an animal, I don’t see an animal. I see another living being. I see another soul like me. I see a friend ~ Unknown

Of late, the debate on animal research has been a highly sensitive topic in the media. While animal testing by scientists has been fraught with controversy, it’s still a fact that animals are captured for experiments. This often rages heated debates between animal lovers and those who support such experiments. Discover both sides of the coin in this write up.

The Pros and Cons

Rats share certain similarities with the human biology. Their hard luck, it seems. This has made them one of the most used animals in experiments and laboratory testing. Consequently, numerous tests on animals have led to path breaking discoveries in medical science. On the contrary, animal research ethics and the integrity and morality of such tests have been questioned by environmentalists.

Pros PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) supporters will stand in unison against the support of animal testing. However, when we view various animal testing pros, we realize that there are several positive aspects to it as well.

  • Various dangerous diseases like herpes simplex, hepatitis B, polio, rabies, malaria, and mumps have been treated owing to medications developed from tests on animals.
  • Results through medical research on animals have led to improvement in medical procedures like blood measurement, lung disease diagnosis, heart disease diagnosis, and various pacemaker technologies.
  • One of the most important techniques in medical surgery, anesthesia, has been developed after it has been tested on animals.
  • Animal research has also been able to benefit cats and dogs in certain ailments. Moreover, the nutrition of cats and dogs has been improved after repeated animal tests.

Cons Animal testing statistics are alarming. To discover new medicines and vaccinations, millions of animals are killed every year all across the globe. Animal rights are lost in oblivion when it comes to animal testing ethics. In this part, we focus on the demerits.

  • Animals go through severe pain during the tests. Most testers claim they use anesthesia to conduct the tests. However, can pricking needles and using chemicals on animals be painless? Who knows if they use anesthesia safely. Just because animals can’t speak, it is not morally correct to subject them to such treatments.
  • Months of torture leads to loss of eyesight, organ failure, and many more dangerous consequences on the animals’ health. Just to see the effects of chemicals, animals are imprisoned and observed over a certain period of time. Meanwhile, they go through hell and eventually die. A majority of animals are killed in the process.
  • Animal testing in the cosmetic industry is another issue that has raised serious concerns over animal safety. Why there is a need to kill animals for enhancing beauty that is often harmful for skin is still not known. It is always better to adopt natural means for beauty.
  • Animals have been forced to mutate and produce cross springs. Embryos of different animals are injected into a different animal’s body.
  • Animal cloning is another phenomena that has been tried several times. Why reduce the dignity of animal lives? Mostly, hybrid animals and cloned ones are either diseased, malformed, or even dead.
  • Animal cruelty has risen to peaks after stem cell and tissue culture has become popular. Scientists are suggesting to find a cure for cancer by trying all experiments on animals. How ethical is it?
  • A study suggests that less than 2% of illnesses that affect humans are ever found in animals. Even rodents (rats), that are mostly used in cancer research, rarely have human form of cancer (lung cancer etc). Why are they still used in such researches?

This topic will always be debated among scholars, animal lovers, and scientists. Humanity has always been caught in dualities. While there is a positive side to one aspect, the negative side also exists. Animal research through animal experimentation has been an integral part of medical research. Yes, this system is inhuman, unethical, and simply morally wrong, but always remember, we all agree to disagree.

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research on animals pros and cons

Research on animals costs many millions of lives each year. And millions more animals are kept confined in laboratories and cages, awaiting their turn for experimentation. Biomedical research using animals is a largely secretive process and the public knows little about what goes on in research labs. This exclusive Faunalytics Fundamental examines the use of animals in research, estimating the scope and nature of the problem based on the best available data. We hope you find the information useful in your advocacy for research animals.  Please see all the sources here.

Animals live rich and complex lives. Primates exhibit deep thought and intricate social structures; their similarity to humans has made using other primates unthinkable for most purposes other than experimentation (and “entertainment”). Dogs like beagles are docile, friendly, and cooperative – traits that make them easier to manage as test subjects. Guinea pigs, which have become synonymous with animal research, are gentle and even purr like cats when they’re happy. Mice and rats are empathetic and studies have shown that they will risk themselves to rescue cage-mates in captivity. There is no doubt that the animals we use for research and dissection are capable of thinking, feeling, and suffering just like we are. Check out the interactive graphics below to explore facts about some of the animals most commonly used in research. Of course, we’re only scratching the surface of what makes these animals unique, sentient, and deserving of their own rights to life and freedom.

Opinions about the use of animals for research are complicated and often divided when it comes to different purposes or types of research. For instance,  a clear majority of people are against the use of animals for testing cosmetics and personal care products . However, if the research is claimed to save or improve human lives, then opinions shift, even if those claims are hypothetical or baseless. Attitudes regarding the use of animals for student dissection are less clear given there are fewer surveys of those audiences. However, the limited research shows that many students and teachers prefer non-animal alternatives to dissection – see our “In The Classroom” section below for a detailed breakdown.

research on animals pros and cons

What about trends over time? The Gallup figures shown in the graphic above have shown a consistent decline in the perceived moral acceptability of testing on animals. From 65% saying “acceptable” in 2001 to 51% saying “acceptable” in 2017 (a record low). Through our Animal Tracker survey, Faunalytics has monitored attitudes about animals used for research since 2008. In the selection of Animal Tracker charts below, you can see that feelings about the protection of animals in laboratories has fluctuated since 2008/2009, but only slightly. In summary, belief in the importance of research animal welfare has stayed strong, most people continue to question the adequacy of laws protecting laboratory animals, and belief in the necessity of animal research and dissection appears to be dropping in recent years.

Before they arrive at the laboratory, animals used for research are most often born and housed in large breeding facilities found throughout the world. Some research animals may come from relatively regulated companies such as Charles River or Interfauna, based in countries like the United States, England, or Spain. Other animals, such as monkeys, more often come from international suppliers that operate in Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, and China. Below, we connect some of the dots of the global breeding and transport of research animals, with Southeast Asia as an example.

research on animals pros and cons

How many animals are bred for research, kept in laboratories, and used in experiments? Unfortunately, under current regulations in virtually any country, it’s impossible to know the exact answer. Estimates for the total number of animals used in research worldwide hover around 115 million to 127 million, while estimates for the U.S. specifically hover around 25 million. In the U.S., researchers are not required to report the numbers of rats, mice, and birds used in experiments, and these species combined make up an estimated 95% of all animals used in research. The chart below provides the best estimates for the numbers of mice, rats, and birds used in the United States in 2015, as well as the other species whose use is covered by the Animal Welfare Act.

research on animals pros and cons

Immediately, we can see that the Animal Welfare Act is inadequate and ignores the big picture. Not only does the act not cover these animals, it also does not mandate that researchers maintain any statistics for these species. Therefore, we can only make educated estimates on the numbers of animals being used. Secondly, we see that researchers, who already keep hidden from public view, have very few official controls or oversight for most of the work they do. For animal advocates, it is important to spotlight these facilities and the often egregious suffering that they house.

The above map shows animal experimentation labs and breeding facilities in the U.S. You can look up the animal research facilities in your state using  this tool put together by HSUS . The prevalence of such operations throughout the country may be shocking to see. Unlike the farms and feedlots that we often see while driving through the countryside, animal research and breeding facilities are much more hidden from view. Likewise, the laws that govern and regulate experimentation in the U.S. (and many other places in the world) do their part to obscure both the scope and the nature of animal research.

Conventional wisdom says that the best way for students to learn about biology is through hands-on methods, usually involving the dissection of dead animals. Dissection has been used as a learning tool for many decades, and it’s estimated that 6-12 million animals are used each year – though that is a very loose estimate and no official statistics are kept. Thankfully, scientific advancements and public opinion are starting to help turn the tide. Recently, a study by Faunalytics on behalf of the National Anti-Vivisection Society found that only half of students are interested in dissecting animals and more than a third (37%) of students would prefer to use alternatives to animal dissection. What’s more, a study by the American Anti-Vivisection Society found that 75% of U.S. adults agree that “students taking biology courses should be allowed to choose alternative methods of learning that do not involve dissecting animals.”

research on animals pros and cons

Support for dissection isn’t just dwindling. Students are actively demanding alternatives to the use of animals in grade school classrooms. In response, many schools have created what are called “student choice policies,” which allow students to opt-out of dissection for ethical reasons. Unfortunately, such policies are not ubiquitous yet; in the U.S., only 18 states and the District of Columbia allow students to choose alternatives. Even when such policies exist, teachers and students may not be aware of them. The Faunalytics/NAVS study mentioned earlier showed that only 53% of educators in states with student choice policies knew about those policies. The same study found that 38% of students didn’t know if alternatives were available to them. Thanks to the work of anti-vivisection groups, this is changing.

If you aren’t swayed by the ethical arguments against animal research, perhaps this will change your mind: Approximately 100 vaccines have shown effectiveness against HIV-like animal viruses, but none prevent HIV in humans. Up to 1,000 drugs have shown effectiveness for neuroprotection in animals, but none for humans. While the biomedical research industry is quick to claim victories, the reality is less glamourous: nine out of ten drugs fail in clinical studies because they cannot predict how they will behave in people; only 8% of drugs tested on animals are deemed fit for human use; one meta-study found that animal trials overestimate the likelihood that a treatment works by 30% because negative results often go unpublished. Fortunately, using animals in scientific research is not a foregone conclusion. On the contrary, there is a burgeoning field of alternatives to animal research, and many such alternatives are already in use today.

research on animals pros and cons

The above graphic shows a small selection of some of the most exciting and promising alternatives to animal research that exist today. There are many others that are available, and even more are on the way. Among the many organizations and institutions working on better alternatives are  FRAME ,  INTERNICHE , and  Animalearn  who are leading the way in promoting clinical and educational alternatives.

This Faunalytics Fundamental has provided a visual overview of the use of animals in research. The result is a complex picture: public opinion is mixed and context-specific; the number of animals used is a guesstimate due to lack of reporting for certain species; and laws are not keeping pace with students’ interest in dissection alternatives. The scientific establishment has a lot of inertia in favor of continuing the use of animals in research, but is slowly shifting towards alternatives.

Meanwhile, millions of animals are trapped in labs, waiting for us to help them. The data presented here raise many questions for how to invest limited advocacy resources:

  • How can advocates galvanize the majority of the public that believes research animal welfare is important and guide them towards supporting elimination and alternatives? Looking a public opinion research such as  this  and  this  can help advocates to target different public audiences on a case by case basis.
  • What can animal advocates – and members of the public – do to contribute to the development of research alternatives?  Education about alternatives  and  their effectiveness  is key.
  • Public opinion for various animal research issues is somewhat contradictory and confused. What are the most effective ways that advocates can clarify the issues? First, animal advocates needs to  educate themselves  on  the science , and then communicate that effectively.
  • As animal research regulations become more stringent in some parts of the world, “outsourcing” to laboratories in other parts of the world becomes a bigger issue. How can advocates anticipate and prevent this trend?

These are questions advocates should think about and possibly research further.

We hope you find the above information useful in your advocacy for animals used in research. Check out all the sources here.

There is so much more work to be done to give advocates the insight they need to choose the most effective ways to help animals. Please donate generously now  to help us bring you and other advocates this crucial information.

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Animal Testing Pros and Cons: Arguments For & Against It

benefits of animal testing

There’s a heated debate in the world of science. And no, not a discussion about theories or hypotheses but about ethics. Animal testing has been a staple of research and studies for a long time. Now animal activists are campaigning to end the use of animals in laboratories.

On the one hand, we have scientists who support experiments on animals to advance science. On the other hand, we have animal activists who feel that testing on animals is unethical.

It’s not an easy debate, though, because, as is with everything, there are pros and cons of animal testing. Yes, animals suffer and are even killed in the pursuit of knowledge. Still, one can’t deny what the world has gained from animal testing.

So how about we dive deep into animal testing pros and cons and see which side of the debate we want to be on.

Animal Testing Pros and Cons

Each side of the debate has its points. About 100 million animals take part in research every year. Because of that, for some people, this is a high-stakes fight for what is right but for others, it’s an unfortunate but acceptable price to pay for science.

So, which side has the right idea? Without further ado, here are animal testing pros and cons.

Pros and Benefits of Animal Testing

1. enable medical advancements.

Statistics from the California Biomedical Research Association show that almost every medical breakthrough in the past 100 years results from animal experiments. This is probably one of the most significant benefits of animal testing.

Thanks to animal research, we have had significant advances in treatment for conditions such as cystic fibrosis, polio, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, childhood leukemia, and more. Did you know that pacemakers and anesthetics were developed using animal testing? One famous medical discovery is insulin which was discovered through an experiment in which dogs had their pancreas removed.

animal testing pros and cons

2. Animals have physiological and biological similarities to human

Some animals share a surprisingly high amount of DNA with human beings. For instance, chimpanzees share 99% of DNA with humans, while mice share 98%. In addition to similar DNA, humans and some animals have the same organs, bloodstream, and central nervous system. This is why such animals get affected by the same diseases and health conditions as us.

These animals are used in lab tests as they allow scientists to predict how human beings might react to certain drugs or vaccines.

3. Help ensure product safety

Let’s say you’ve bought a can of insect repellant at the store. How do companies ensure you don’t suffer side effects when spraying it in your room? Well, they test the product on animals to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises for customers.

One of the advantages of animal testing is that it protects humans from unsafe medical treatments. Before medical products are approved for the mass market, plenty of research and testing must be done to ensure they’re safe for use.

4. Allow for examination of a complete life cycle

Human beings live an estimated 70 years. If a scientist wanted to study the entire life cycle, it would be a logistics nightmare to study people because of their long lives.

On the other hand, most animals have really short life cycles. Animals like mice tend to live two-three years. This makes it possible for researchers to study the effects of treatments or genetic manipulation over a whole lifespan or even across several generations of mice. Such long-term studies contribute highly to cancer research.

5. Less legal hurdles to cross

Simply put, animals don’t have the same rights or cognitive abilities as we do. Scientists must jump through many legal hurdles to experiment on humans, including getting consent forms. Numerous laws inhibit testing on human beings, especially when the experiments involve genetic manipulation.

Laws like the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki restrict human trials before animal tests are done.

6. Animals also benefit from the research

Animal testing doesn’t just benefit human beings. The animals themselves gain from it. Vaccines that have saved millions of animals were created using animal testing. It has even brought certain species from the brink of extinction.

Animal research has provided vaccines and cures for rabies, infectious hepatitis virus, anthrax, feline leukemia, and canine parvovirus.

Therefore, animal research isn’t only beneficial to us humans. Still, animal testing findings help veterinaries know how to treat our pets when they’re unwell.

7. Lack of proper alternatives

A list of animal testing pros is incomplete without mentioning the main reason animal testing exists. For the longest time, no adequate alternative could match the complex systems found within humans and animals. There’s no other living creature with the nearest human-like anatomic form than animals. For this reason, researchers feel they had no choice but to use animals to better understand the human body and create practical products.

You may argue that computer models have made tremendous advancements. While that’s true, for the models to work efficiently in researching the endocrine system, the immune system, and the central nervous system, they’d need reliable information obtained from animal testing.

Learn more about animal testing alternatives.

8. There’s more value in using animals for research than as food for humans

We eat more animals than we use for animal testing. Can’t quite comprehend it? To illustrate it better, animal testing facts show that for every chicken used in research, 340 more are used as food.

So when you think about the medical advancement and progress made from animal testing, we’re better off using a few animals for experimentation than eating a whole lot more.

Cons of Animal Testing

Now let’s take a look at the cons of animal testing.

1. It’s an expensive process

One of the significant negatives of animal testing is just how expensive it is. It costs significantly more money to use animals in experiments than alternatives to testing, such as in-vitro testing methods.

Animal testing requires plenty of workforce and expensive equipment, leading to spending billions of dollars each year in this field. Animal experiments last a long time too, which adds to the overall cost.

When you think about the financial burden countries have to bear, it becomes questionable whether animal testing really provides enough benefits.

2. Inaccurate results

92% of drugs don’t make it past animal testing trials. Most of the products tested on animals don’t even make it to supermarkets. This is because, despite the similarities between humans and other mammals, the differences are still significant enough to give unreliable results. With such highly inaccurate results, putting animals through such torture seems wasteful.

3. Animal welfare laws exemptions

Most research projects are unregulated by the government. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) protects a small section of animals, such as dogs and cats. This means that the rest are not covered by animal protection laws. The Act leaves out over 25 million animals at risk of abuse and neglect yearly.

4. Cruel treatment

A lot of research projects cause physical and psychological harm to animals. Sometimes the animals are deprived of food and water. Sometimes, they’re subjected to painful procedures that inflict them with burns, wounds, and pain to test. In other experiments, animals are injected with lethal doses of certain chemicals to determine how much can kill them.

Even worse are the experiments that kill the animals to understand death. For many people, none of the animal testing pros beat this animal testing con.

Related article : Should testing on animals be banned?

5. Ineffective results

Some drugs and products are harmful to animals but beneficial to humans. The reverse is also true. A good example is Aspirin which was almost shelved due to the destructive reactions it caused in animal subjects. Another example is thalidomide which passed animal tests but caused congenital disabilities in human beings.

6. There are useful alternatives

Thanks to scientific innovation, alternatives to animal testing exist today. Computer modeling, robotics, 3-D modeling, in-vitro testing , and even human volunteers are all acceptable replacements. Over time, other alternatives are being invented and refined for use. With the existence of such options, shouldn’t we abandon animal testing for good?

7. Demand for cruelty-free products

Cruelty-free products are becoming very popular. It’s estimated that the cruelty-free cosmetics market could reach $10 billion by 2024. Many countries are banning animal tests forcing companies to turn to alternatives. This popularity is bound to grow as time goes on.

Related article: Animal Testing In Makeup and Cosmetics

Animal testing is one of the most controversial aspects of modern-day science. As you can see, animal testing pros and cons are heavily debatable depending on the side you’re on. Despite the advantages of animal testing, the enormous weight of the animal testing cons, and the existence of reliable alternatives, there’s little reason to allow this practice to continue.

You Might Also Like:

  • Why Animal Testing Should Be Banned: 7 Reasons It Has To Stop

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Animal models of depression: pros and cons

  • Published: 17 December 2018
  • Volume 377 , pages 5–20, ( 2019 )

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  • Jaanus Harro   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-4484-2096 1  

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Animal models of depression are certainly needed but the question in the title has been raised owing to the controversies in the interpretation of the readout in a number of tests, to the perceived lack of progress in the development of novel treatments and to the expressed doubts in whether animal models can offer anything to make a true breakthrough in understanding the neurobiology of depression and producing novel drugs against depression. Herewith, it is argued that if anything is wrong with animal models, including those for depression, it is not about the principle of modelling complex human disorder in animals but in the way the tests are selected, conducted and interpreted. Further progress in the study of depression and in developing new treatments, will be supported by animal models of depression if these were more critically targeted to drug screening vs. studies of underlying neurobiology, clearly stratified to vulnerability and pathogenetic models, focused on well-defined endophenotypes and validated for each setting while bearing the existing limits to validation in mind. Animal models of depression need not to rely merely on behavioural readouts but increasingly incorporate neurobiological measures as the understanding of depression as human brain disorder advances. Further developments would be fostered by cross-fertilizinga translational approach that is bidirectional, research on humans making more use of neurobiological findings in animals.

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Acknowledgements

Relevant research by the author was supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research project IUT20-40, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience and the EU Framework 6 Integrated Project NEWMOOD (LSHM-CT-2004-503474).

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Harro, J. Animal models of depression: pros and cons. Cell Tissue Res 377 , 5–20 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-018-2973-0

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Pros and cons of narrow- versus wide-compartment rotarod apparatus: An experimental study in mice

Affiliations.

  • 1 Department of Neurochemistry, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, NY, USA.
  • 2 Department of Developmental Neurobiology, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, NY, USA.
  • 3 Department of Neurochemistry, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, NY, USA. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • PMID: 38341101
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2024.114901

The rotarod test, a sensorimotor assessment that allows for quantitative evaluation of motor coordination in rodents, has extensive application in many research fields. The test results exhibit extreme between-study variability, sometimes making it challenging to conclude the validity of certain disease models and related therapeutic effects. Although the variation in test paradigms may account for this disparity, some features of rotarod apparatus including rod diameter make differences. However, it is unknown whether the width of animal compartment has a role in rotarod performance. Here we comprehensively evaluated the active rotarod performance and adverse incidents in multiple strains of mice on an 11-cm- or a 5-cm-wide compartment apparatus. We found that mouse behaviors on these apparatuses were surprisingly different. It took a markedly longer time to train mice on the narrow- than wide-compartment rotarod. Further, non-transgenic B6129S and tau knockout mice aged 11 months and beyond showed different levels of improvement based on the compartment width. These mice had no overt improvements on accelerating rotarod over 4-5 training sessions on the narrow compartment, contrary to marked progress on the wide counterpart. The incidents of mice passively somersaulting round and fragmented running occurred significantly more on the wide than narrow compartment during accelerating rotarod sessions. Mice fell off rod more frequently on narrow than wide compartments upon attempt to turn around and when moving backward on rod. The pros and cons of narrow versus wide compartments are informative as to how to choose a rotarod apparatus that best fits the animal models used.

Keywords: Adverse incidents; Animal compartment width; Motor coordination; Rotarod apparatus; Rotarod test; Sensorimotor behavior.

Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Read our research on: Immigration & Migration | Podcasts | Election 2024

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How americans view the situation at the u.s.-mexico border, its causes and consequences, 80% say the u.s. government is doing a bad job handling the migrant influx.

research on animals pros and cons

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand the public’s views about the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. at the border with Mexico. For this analysis, we surveyed 5,140 adults from Jan. 16-21, 2024. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

Here are the questions used for the report and its methodology .

The growing number of migrants seeking entry into the United States at its border with Mexico has strained government resources, divided Congress and emerged as a contentious issue in the 2024 presidential campaign .

Chart shows Why do Americans think there is an influx of migrants to the United States?

Americans overwhelmingly fault the government for how it has handled the migrant situation. Beyond that, however, there are deep differences – over why the migrants are coming to the U.S., proposals for addressing the situation, and even whether it should be described as a “crisis.”

Factors behind the migrant influx

Economic factors – either poor conditions in migrants’ home countries or better economic opportunities in the United States – are widely viewed as major reasons for the migrant influx.

About seven-in-ten Americans (71%), including majorities in both parties, cite better economic opportunities in the U.S. as a major reason.

There are wider partisan differences over other factors.

About two-thirds of Americans (65%) say violence in migrants’ home countries is a major reason for why a large number of immigrants have come to the border.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are 30 percentage points more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to cite this as a major reason (79% vs. 49%).

By contrast, 76% of Republicans say the belief that U.S. immigration policies will make it easy to stay in the country once they arrive is a major factor. About half as many Democrats (39%) say the same.

For more on Americans’ views of these and other reasons, visit Chapter 2.

How serious is the situation at the border?

A sizable majority of Americans (78%) say the large number of migrants seeking to enter this country at the U.S.-Mexico border is eithera crisis (45%) or a major problem (32%), according to the Pew Research Center survey, conducted Jan. 16-21, 2024, among 5,140 adults.

Related: Migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a record high at the end of 2023 .

Chart shows Border situation viewed as a ‘crisis’ by most Republicans; Democrats are more likely to call it a ‘problem’

  • Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to describe the situation as a “crisis”: 70% of Republicans say this, compared with just 22% of Democrats.
  • Democrats mostly view the situation as a major problem (44%) or minor problem (26%) for the U.S. Very few Democrats (7%) say it is not a problem.

In an open-ended question , respondents voice their concerns about the migrant influx. They point to numerous issues, including worries about how the migrants are cared for and general problems with the immigration system.

Yet two concerns come up most frequently:

  • 22% point to the economic burdens associated with the migrant influx, including the strains migrants place on social services and other government resources.
  • 22% also cite security concerns. Many of these responses focus on crime (10%), terrorism (10%) and drugs (3%).

When asked specifically about the impact of the migrant influx on crime in the United States, a majority of Americans (57%) say the large number of migrants seeking to enter the country leads to more crime. Fewer (39%) say this does not have much of an impact on crime in this country.

Republicans (85%) overwhelmingly say the migrant surge leads to increased crime in the U.S. A far smaller share of Democrats (31%) say the same; 63% of Democrats instead say it does not have much of an impact.

Government widely criticized for its handling of migrant influx

For the past several years, the federal government has gotten low ratings for its handling of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Note: The wording of this question has been modified modestly to reflect circumstances at the time).

Chart shows Only about a quarter of Democrats and even fewer Republicans say the government has done a good job dealing with large number of migrants at the border

However, the current ratings are extraordinarily low.

Just 18% say the U.S. government is doing a good job dealing with the large number of migrants at the border, while 80% say it is doing a bad job, including 45% who say it is doing a very bad job.

  • Republicans’ views are overwhelmingly negative (89% say it’s doing a bad job), as they have been since Joe Biden became president.
  • 73% of Democrats also give the government negative ratings, the highest share recorded during Biden’s presidency.

For more on Americans’ evaluations of the situation, visit Chapter 1 .

Which policies could improve the border situation?

There is no single policy proposal, among the nine included on the survey, that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats say would improve the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. There are areas of relative agreement, however.

A 60% majority of Americans say that increasing the number of immigration judges and staff in order to make decisions on asylum more quickly would make the situation better. Only 11% say it would make things worse, while 14% think it would not make much difference.

Nearly as many (56%) say creating more opportunities for people to legally immigrate to the U.S. would make the situation better.

Chart shows Most Democrats and nearly half of Republicans say boosting resources for quicker decisions on asylum cases would improve situation at Mexico border

Majorities of Democrats say each of these proposals would make the border situation better.

Republicans are less positive than are Democrats; still, about 40% or more of Republicans say each would improve the situation, while far fewer say they would make things worse.

Opinions on other proposals are more polarized. For example, a 56% majority of Democrats say that adding resources to provide safe and sanitary conditions for migrants arriving in the U.S. would be a positive step forward.

Republicans not only are far less likely than Democrats to view this proposal positively, but far more say it would make the situation worse (43%) than better (17%).

Chart shows Wide partisan gaps in views of expanding border wall, providing ‘safe and sanitary conditions’ for migrants

Building or expanding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was among the most divisive policies of Donald Trump’s presidency. In 2019, 82% of Republicans favored expanding the border wall , compared with just 6% of Democrats.

Today, 72% of Republicans say substantially expanding the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico would make the situation better. Just 15% of Democrats concur, with most saying either it would not make much of a difference (47%) or it would make things worse (24%).

For more on Americans’ reactions to policy proposals, visit Chapter 3 .

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Table of contents, fast facts on how greeks see migrants as greece-turkey border crisis deepens, americans’ immigration policy priorities: divisions between – and within – the two parties, from the archives: in ’60s, americans gave thumbs-up to immigration law that changed the nation, around the world, more say immigrants are a strength than a burden, latinos have become less likely to say there are too many immigrants in u.s., most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

AZ Animals

Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics: Pros, Cons, and Best System for Your Indoor Garden

W ho says you need a large space or even soil to grow plants? There are so many different growing systems out there, each with its own benefits! Two popular growing systems, that don’t use messy dirt are aquaponics and hydroponics . The systems are very similar and primarily use water and plant nutrients, however, aquaponics has something special, fish! Follow along to learn the similarities and differences between aquaponics vs. hydroponics.

The Differences Between Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics

Aquaponic and hydroponic systems have few differences, but these differences can complicate things depending on your wants and needs. For example, it’s easier to operate a hydroponics system in a small space, like an apartment. This, however, is a bit more difficult when maintaining an aquaponics system. Follow along to learn the key operational, nutrient management, plant growth, and health, and general maintenance and practical considerations.

Operational Differences

Aquaponics is a unique system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is the cultivation of fish and other aquatic animals or plants. It’s sometimes also called fish farming or fish culturing.

There are multiple ways to build a system, but they all generally work the same. The fish eat and produce fish waste, ammonia, which is then converted into nitrates using nitrifying bacteria. The nitrates act as a strong fertilizer, which is fed to the plants. The plants then filter the water, which goes back to the fish tank.

Usually, the system is built on layers. For instance, at the bottom of the aquaponics system is a tank with fish. You can use different species including beta, largemouth bass, tilapia, perch, and salmon. Then is a section for water filtration. Pipes push filtered water back to the top layer, which is where the plants grow. This water then drops down to the fish again.

The top layer is what changes the most depending on the design. Some people use a large grow bed with clay rocks or some kind of grow material that mimics soil. Others only use water. You can also the Dutch bucket system, which is perfect for vining plants.

Hydroponics

The biggest operational and design difference between an aquaponics system and a hydroponics system is that hydroponics uses only plant nutrients, not fish. Hydroponic systems are more flexible. You can purchase systems online or make your own. Some of the systems grow under LED grow lights on a flat board, with their roots submerged under water. Some systems use vertical growing techniques which can save you a lot of space. You can also use PCP pipes to design your own system. Hydroponics works well indoors, outdoors, and in greenhouses.

In a hydroponics system, the most important components include plant nutrients, a growing medium (not soil), water, and a water pump. Some hydroponics systems also use an air pump, air stone, timer, grow lights, and nutrient pump. You can make it as simple or as complex as you’d like!

Nutrient Management

Plants receive nutrients from fish waste in aquaponics systems. However, sometimes the waste is not enough. It’s also important for the water to remain at the right pH level as some fish species, specifically goldfish and beta fish are sensitive. It’s also vital you choose a high-quality fish feed with macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. Common nutrient deficiencies within this type of system include iron, magnesium, potassium, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous. Interestingly, the schedule in which the fish are fed also contributes to the plant’s health. According to a  study , the best feeding regime is a uniform one. It improves water quality.

Hydroponics systems, unlike aquaponics, don’t rely on nutrients from fish and fish feed. Instead, hydroponic systems need plant food in a specific ratio depending on the amount of water in a system. Nutrients your system and plant will need are nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous. You can either purchase an already mixed nutrient mix or food nutrients you can mix with water and combine in a system. As the water levels drop, you add more.

Plant Growth and Health

Growing plants in an aquaponics system is very easy and worthwhile. Generally, plants grow faster in both hydroponics and aquaponics systems. This is because the plants have access to nutrients at all times. Lettuce grown in soil can take between 30 to 70 days. In hydroponics and aquaponics systems, the growing time for lettuce can be cut nearly in half.

There are very few differences in the health of plants growing in both systems. You can grow anything from flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Popular plants in both systems include cilantro, parsley, catnip, tomatoes, peppers, basil, mint, cucumbers, and strawberries.

Maintenance and Practical Considerations

Maintaining an aquaponics system takes time, patience, and money. It’s very important to maintain a regular pH level. A spike or drop can harm the fish, and even kill them. Not only should you monitor pH levels, but also the water level. This is the main difference between maintaining an aquaponics vs. hydroponics system.

But, are aquaponics systems practical? There are a lot of benefits to using an aquaponics system. However, they can be difficult to maintain and store in a small space. Aquaponics is great if you have a home with good ventilation. Trying to create or purchase a large aquaponics system in an apartment is challenging, although not entirely impossible. However, the lack of air circulation can lead to diseases and mold. Still, you can use an aquaponics system on a small scale in a small space. There are kits perfect for small fish like goldfish or beta fish. Aquaponics systems cost a little more than hydroponics systems, but the cost range varies a lot. You can create your own system for as little as $30 or buy a professional, already-installed system for over $1,000.

Hydroponics systems aren’t too difficult to maintain. A similarity between both systems though is that regular cleaning is necessary, especially the grow bed. Over time, even with the air pump running and a fan for air circulation, the grow bed can develop mold and algae. Sometimes, mold also grows on the growing medium. This is common when there isn’t enough air circulation and mainly happens with indoor systems. One way to combat this is by using a small fan to provide air flow and to wrap the growing medium in aluminum foil, apart from the center for the seed to emerge.

It’s time to clean your system when you’ve harvested multiple times and want to start a new set of plants. Starting seeds immediately is not recommended as organic matter, like plant roots, can still remain in the water. First, start by pouring the water out of the system. Specific cleaning instructions vary depending on the type of system. You need to sanitize and sterilize the system before restarting it with new plants. After pouring the water, wipe down the grow bed and take out any remaining roots. Water and wiping aren’t enough though. You will need to use soap and either bleach or a food-grade hydrogen peroxide mix. To get all the nooks and crannies, it’s best to use a brush when cleaning. Only use bleach though when you’re completely restarting the system, not when completing a simple cleaning.

These convenient systems are very practical, even with their maintenance requirements. They are easy to use in small and large spaces. Aquaponics systems aren’t too different but require more responsibility as live animals are part of the process. Hydroponics systems are better for beginners.

The post Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics: Pros, Cons, and Best System for Your Indoor Garden appeared first on AZ Animals .

Aquaponics vs. Hydroponics: Pros, Cons, and Best System for Your Indoor Garden

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  • J Med Ethics Hist Med

Bioethics: a look at animal testing in medicine and cosmetics in the UK

Using animals for cosmetics and medical tests has contributed towards a debate based on conflicting interests. Despite the efforts in justifying the value of animals in conducting analyses, this study seeks to elaborate whether or not it is rational to use animals as test subjects in medical and cosmetics fields. The value of animal life is at the core of the emotional conflicts that arise when animals become experimental subjects in medical and cosmetics fields. The aim of this study is to determine if there are ethical differences in the use of animal testing in medicine versus cosmetics. The research, through review and content analysis of the existing literature, compares and provides the outcomes of using animals in medical and cosmetics tests by examining studies conducted in the UK. The findings of this research indicated that animal testing is considered acceptable in the medical field only if there are no other alternatives, but is completely unacceptable in the cosmetics field. The study also provides recommendations in the form of alternatives that protect animals from cruelty and may benefit the different stakeholders and the society at large.

Introduction

Throughout history, animals have been the subject of experimentation to improve our understanding of anatomy and pathology ( 1 ). However, animal testing only became significant in the twentieth century ( 2 ).

Animal experiments are used extensively when developing new medicines and for testing the safety of certain products. Recently, the use of animals for biomedical research has been severely criticized by animal rights and protection groups. Similarly, many nations have established laws to make the practice of animal testing more humane. There are two positions in animal testing. One is that animal testing is acceptable if suffering is minimized and there are human benefits that could not have been achieved using any other means ( 3 ). The second position considers animal testing unacceptable because it causes suffering, and the benefits to human beings are either not proven or could be obtained using other methods.

As such, animal testing is a highly controversial subject that often elicits conflicting emotions from supporters and critics alike. It is also a divisive subject as some people support animal testing only in certain cases and oppose its use in other areas. For example, scientists note that significant medical breakthroughs have only been made possible through drug testing on animals. To them and other like-minded people, such achievements are reason enough to keep using animals in the lab ( 4 ). Animal tests determine if experimental drugs are effective or ineffective on human beings. Eventually, the medicine is tried out on a small group of humans through clinical trials before declaring the medicine safe to use.

Badyal and DesaI ( 5 ) note that these treatments are as beneficial to humans as they are to animals, since some human diseases are found in animals too. Therefore, some who support animal testing only advocate its use for medical (but not cosmetics) purposes, arguing that the advancement in human medicine may lead to advancement in animal medicine.

While a significant population completely disapproves of animal testing, a faction of people only disagrees with the use of animals for cosmetics testing, arguing that it is despicable and cruel to use animal life merely so that humans can advance their beauty technology. The concern extends to animals used for science, and people want animal suffering to be minimized ( 6 ). The discovery of new drugs has for a long time been based on a number of interactions among aspects such as data collected from patients, tissues, organs or cell culture and varied animal species ( 7 ). Those who oppose the use of animal testing for cosmetics believe it is outrageous and cruel to use animal life for the simple reason of making humans look better, and that the benefits to human beings do not validate the harms done to animals ( 7 ).

For such reasons, the use of animals for testing cosmetics products has been banned in the UK and all other member states of the European Union since 2013 ( 8 ). However, other countries like China and the United States of America still continue with the practice ( 9 ). Linzey adds that about 50 - 100 million animals are used for experiments every year, and that over 1.37 million animals were used for drug experimentation in America in the year 2010 ( 9 ). In the meantime, the number of experiments conducted on animals has declined in Britain but is increasing in other countries. While experiments involving vertebrates are regulated in most countries, experiments on invertebrates are not ( 5 ).

The aim of this study is to examine whether or not animal testing is still useful and necessary in the present time, and whether there are ethical differences between animal testing in medical and cosmetics fields. We use the UK as our case study and provide alternatives that can be recommended in place of animal testing.

This review was based on a cross-sectional survey by Clemence and Leaman ( 11 ) that analysed the importance of animal testing from two different aspects: medicine and cosmetics. The population consisted of individuals residing in the UK, and the sample size was 987 (= 0.03). The research included 496 men and 491 women. The report compared public views with the responses from a similar study in 2014 that had 969 participants (477 men and 492 women). The inclusion criteria were based on numerous strata such as gender, social grade definitions (i.e., professionals such as doctors and architects, people with responsible jobs such as professors, middle rank public servants such as nurses and clerics, skilled manual workers, etc.), respondents’ working status (fulltime, part-time, not working), ethnicity (white, non-white), and educational background. This report measured public perception on whether it is ethical to use animal testing for medical or cosmetics purposes. Participants were required to state whether they found it acceptable, mostly unacceptable, unacceptable, or were undecided. Consequently, the same participants were also tasked to indicate whether they saw conducting animal testing for scientific experimentation as completely necessary, somewhat necessary, not very necessary, completely unnecessary, or they did not know.

The study also utilized data from the UK Home Office ( 12 ) to determine which animals were most frequently used for medical and cosmetics research around the world. This report also provided crucial information as to the purposes of animal testing, for instance for medical research, biological testing, regulatory testing, etc.

According to the UK Home Office ( 12 ), in the year 2016, 48.6% of the animal tests in medical research were conducted for genetically oriented studies. Moreover, 28.5% of the medical research involving animal testing was for basic biological research, 13.5% was for regulatory

testing, 8.6% was for translating research from animals to humans, and 0.8% for other trainings. This is summarized in Figure 1 below.

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Purposes of Animal Testing in Medicine

Data from the UK Home Office ( 10 ) indicates that the most commonly used animals for medical and cosmetics research are mice and rabbits (72.8%), fish (13.6%), rats (6.3%), birds (3.9%) and other animal species representing 3.4% of the total test animal population, as indicated in Figure 2 below.

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Types of Animals Used in Testing

A published report ( 12 ) indicated that 17% of the sampled group viewed animal testing for medical research as ‘mostly unacceptable’ if there were no alternative, 17% as ‘not acceptable’, and 65% as ‘acceptable’. This was in stark contrast with testing for cosmetics purposes, to which an overwhelming 80% of the participants responded as ‘unacceptable’. The summary of the results is provided in Figure 3 and Figure 4 below.

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Animal Testing for Medical Research

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Animal Testing for Cosmetics Research

 In the same study ( 12 ), the participants were asked about the necessity of conducting scientific experiments on animals, which 38% of the respondents viewed as ‘completely necessary’, 23% as ‘somewhat necessary’, 20% as ‘not very necessary’, and 16% as ‘completely unnecessary’. The results are summarized in Figure 5 below.

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Necessity of Conducting Scientific Experiments on Animals

The application of these methods to evaluate the safety of cosmetics was the most detested as stated by about 80% of the people who were interviewed during the investigation. The sensitivity to human life, on the other hand, reduces the strictness towards utilization of animals to find anti-viruses and antibiotics for various diseases.

The outcome portrays the essentiality of using animals to determine materials that would help the population to live healthily ( 13 ). However, in the past few decades, the number of animals used for testing drugs has been steadily decreasing ( 14 ).

The data indicates that most of the medical research processes involving animal testing emanate from genetically oriented studies, which constitute 48.6% of the medical research animal testing. Experimentation on human genetics presents various legal and ethical challenges to medical and biological researchers, alongside problems in creating experimental procedures using human test subjects. These problems occur partially due to the fact that the experimentation processes involved in these types of studies often lead to extensive gene and physiological damages to the test subjects. Such experiments typically involve deliberate presentation of diseases and other gene modifications to the test subjects, usually requiring the euthanizing of the involved subjects ( 15 ). The animal testing experimentations involving genetic processes include studies in gene modification and examine diseases believed to hold genetic components, such as cancer and diabetes ( 16 ). These experimentation processes typically involve some sort of gene modification that can simulate the presentation of genetically based disorders manifested in human beings to allow researchers to better understand those disorders.

The data also indicate that another major application of animal testing in the medical field is in basic research in biological systems and processes, which accounts for 28.5% of the testing categories. This application of animal testing in medical research involves studies in how biological systems function, and the nature and manner of disease transmission in living organisms. The findings accrued through these kinds of studies translate to advancements in the scientific knowledge of human pathology and present opportunities for the derivation and testing of cures, as noted by Festing and Wilkinson ( 17 ).

The findings further present that regulatory testing (13.5%) and animal to human translation research (8.6%) account for significant portions of the application of animal testing in the medical field. The use of animal testing for regulatory testing purposes involves applying new medical findings, procedures and products to animals to see if they meet the thresholds mandated by the medical regulatory bodies. Translation of research findings from animals to humans involves conducting research into the possibility of animal pathogens becoming infectious to humans, and identifying potential ways of applying non-human physiology to the improvement of human health. Other forms of medical and biological trainings and studies that also engage the use of animals in experimentation in the medical field include elements such as basic physiology and pathogen studies, typically conducted in educational institutions.

Animal testing in the field of cosmetics generally involves the use of animal subjects in testing new cosmetics products and ingredients. The practice essentially involves the application or forced ingestion or injection of these substances to various parts of test animals to examine their toxicity, irritation of the eyes and/or skin, ultraviolet light-triggered toxicity, and their potential for causing unwanted gene mutations ( 18 ).

The use of animal testing in the field of cosmetics research and production presents an unethical viewpoint since the findings do not advance human health, and the practice leads to the torture and killing of animals. The Humane Society ( 18 ) also notes that at the conclusion of the experimentation, the animals are usually killed through methods such as decapitation, neck twisting and asphyxiation, often without pain relief.

With regard to the ethical principles of animal testing in both fields, a convincing argument should first be presented to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). This is to justify the need for a researcher to conduct animal studies, and to ensure that the research is conducted using the smallest possible number of animals and with minimal suffering. Additionally, Naderi et al. ( 19 ) noted an increased level of legislation on the matter of animal testing, with researchers being required to submit comprehensive proposals to the IACUC to demonstrate procedural compliance with the guiding principles of the organization before conducting animal tests. Furthermore, Holden ( 20 ) highlighted the fact that researchers need to justify to review and ethics committees the use of mice rather than other alternatives in experiments. These issues indicate that researchers should look for alternatives to animal testing before proceeding with animal trials.

The issue then remains on the nature and availability of alternatives to animal testing in the medical research field. Researchers have undertaken measures to introduce some levels of such alternatives in medical studies. The accrued data indicate that a significant number of people agree with animal testing for medical research, especially when compared to those who agree with animal testing for cosmetics purposes. The data obtained from the studies indicate a slow but perceptible shift in the public opinions regarding animal testing for medical research purposes. People are increasingly finding it unacceptable to use animal test subjects even in medical research. However, the majority of the sampled people believed that medical testing procedures should use animal test subjects, but only when there is no other alternative. This indicates that people view animal testing for medical research as ethical, but under certain conditions.

The use of animals in research is still relevant because the process is useful in veterinary medicine as it helps the students understand the physiology and anatomy and improves surgical skills ( 21 ). The study by Badyal and Desai ( 5 ) supports this perception by highlighting the fact that animal use in laboratory investigation will make new discoveries possible. However, researchers should apply ethical concepts to reduce the amount of pain and unnecessary procedures for the animals. Moreover, animal testing to develop new drugs will continue to protect the future existence of humanity. Cheluvappa, et al. ( 22 ) reiterate that animal experimentation will remain essential to testing future medicine because it helps scientists understand the changes of behaviour, embryology and genetics through dissections that are conducted on the genetically produced animals.

Animals play an important role in testing human drugs as they have a large number of medical reactions similar to those of human beings. Specifically, animals such as dogs, mice and rabbits have an identical DNA that cannot be replicated through artificial models. Public concern for the increasing use of animals in terms of ethics and safety provokes anxiety among the population. Conversely, these uncertainties and unavailability of trustable alternatives show the importance of using animals in medical research as the scientists aim to protect the human race ( 23 ).

However, the use of animals to test cosmetics is highly limited due to the availability of alternative sources. For instance, The Laboratory Animals Veterinary Association (LAVA) claims that the UK government prohibits any individual from using animals to determine the suitability of cosmetics to the human body ( 13 , 24 ). In its circular, The European Union states that they have succeeded in developing alternative measures that cosmetics firms can apply to test their products without using laboratory animals ( 25 ).

Recommendations: Alternatives to Animal Testing

To improve business ethics in cosmetics companies, it is necessary for alternatives to be integrated instead of animals. Companies can employ assessment of scientific barriers to find replacements for animal test subjects and to procure the knowledge of correctly using animals for medical and cosmetics tests. Sophisticated tests on human cells or tissues, computer-modelling techniques, and experiments on people who volunteer are some measures that can limit acts of animal cruelty by cosmetics companies. Companies need to integrate tests that minimize involvement of animals in order to limit the possibility of animal cruelty, and consequently improve their business ethics. Some of the recommended alternatives are listed here.

Computer Simulation

The concept was developed by Denis Noble, and the system is currently enrolled in clinical settings. These simulations are used to test heart replacements, and are also applied to explore human behavior. Various scholars provide that this model is more accurate than animal experiments because it uses human data to analyse diseases and make predictions ( 26 ).

Stem cells are proper alternatives to the in vitro systems of disease testing and toxin evaluations ( 27 ). The experiments involve evaluation of embryonic stem cells that can be grown in Petri dishes. The Petri dishes can be placed in the cells, and after that the resulting components are placed under evaluation to help in the discovery of new medications. Stem cells are essential because they can differentiate into human tissues and make it possible to screen the suspected diseases ( 26 ).

These materials are majorly utilized in the cosmetics industry to minimize the number of animals used to test the level of toxicity in a product. Significantly, investigations showed that human tissues developed in laboratories can be used to assess the allergic responses to the available chemicals ( 28 ). These results can then be analysed by comparing reactions, and a bio signature of genes is used to make appropriate interventions.

Notably, scientists can take high-resolution pictures of human tissues, which are then analyzed with the help of various computer systems. The advantage of this model is characterized by its ability to customize the parts of the organism under consideration. Moreover, 3D images also develop prototype designs and materials that can be used to investigate the existing and future ailments ( 29 ).

This study indicates that it is justifiable to use animals in experimentations only when there are no alternatives, and the tests have significant benefits to humans. Many researchers are working towards finding options that will help eliminate the use of animals for medical and cosmetics tests. The different natures of tests conducted on animals in the fields of medicine and cosmetics tend to have clear negative implications. For such reasons, it is imperative for organizations to develop practices that endorse business ethics. Although animal tests are ideal in establishing whether drugs can be effective in treating humans for various ailments, entities that conduct these tests need to be educated about the gravity of the situation. Animals have been extremely useful in conducting genetic studies and for biological systems investigations. However, a comparison between animal tests in medicine and cosmetics reveals that their benefits in the field of medicine outweigh those in cosmetics. Therefore, animals are essential contributors to scientific experiments that are affiliated with the medical industry. The effects that medical products may have on humans make it ethical to carry out the tests on animals first.

After analysing the arguments of both the supporters and opponents involved in the controversial subject of animal testing, it is difficult to determine which direction is right or wrong. However, the agreement is that animal suffering be minimized at all costs. This research concludes that cosmetics companies should adhere to the established laws and principles against the use and abuse of animals in tests and should seek alternative methods to test their products.

Acknowledgements

Citation to this article:

Kabene S, Baadel S. Bioethics: a look at animal testing in medicine and cosmetics in the UK. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 2019; 12: 15.

Conflict of Interests

Authors declare having no conflict of interest.

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    Even those animals that are evolutionarily quite distant from humans, such as Drosophila melanogaster, Zebrafish ( Danio rerio) and Caenorhabditis elegans, share physiological and genetic similarities with human beings [ 2 ]; therefore animal experimentation can be of great help for the advancement of medical science [ 2 ].

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    No. Just by being very complex living, moving organisms they share a huge amount of similarities with humans. Humans and other animals have much more in common than they have differences. Mice share over 90% of their genes with humans. A mouse has the same organs as a human, in the same places, doing the same things.

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  28. Bioethics: a look at animal testing in medicine and cosmetics in the UK

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