How much is too much with animal experimentation?

I found a column Tuesday afternoon written by a PETA representative, challenging Canada’s McGill University and its research into facial pain responses in mice.

Alka Chandna states in the column on – “The results of the new study should bolster the argument that these animals suffer as we do and should not be treated like disposable laboratory equipment. Instead, the authors are ignoring the moral implications of their findings and will instead use the results as fodder for more dreadful pain experiments on animals.”

I tend to agree with this statement. This is research to support a theory that mice feel pain to a point of suffering and show this level of pain in their facial expressions. So the researchers will continue with the experiments even after the finding of supporting evidence to prove the theory. With these findings comes the moral implications of knowing that with physical pain comes emotional pain for these animals.

A post from May 10 goes into more reasoning behind the experiments, where the researchers at McGill University developed a “Mouse Grimace Scale.” And the article notes they are hoping to use the results of the experiments in developing better pain-relief drugs for humans and as “an important tool in helping scientists ensure that laboratory animals don’t suffer unnecessarily.”

And this is where animal advocates who are against this sort of experimentation see this as twisted logic.

But is it morally acceptable to inflict pain on animals in this way – on animals with self-awareness? When should a particular area of experimentation end or should it continue after a point where logical conclusions are formed? Do you believe there are necessary animal experiments being conducted?

I clearly see the moral arguments from both sides – where animal welfare meets the development of medical practices or drugs that might reduce human suffering.

What are your thoughts?

2 responses to this post.

  1. There is absolutely no need to use other beings for testing, period. A child even knows when something is hurt. Universities and other entities get paid obscenely large sums of money to conduct experiments/research that are usually useless. Yet the spin on the stories is that they need to be done, again, and again, and again… There are many cures for cancer. What do you think would happen to all of that funding, the jobs, the pharmaceutical company patents, if/when people wake up and realize that the cure is right there.


  2. Posted by D Gary Grady on May 25, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    It’s certainly true that some animal experimentation is useless. In fact, in high school and college I refused to do any experiments with animals that I considered pointless and I remain glad I did. But to suggest that there is “absolutely no reason to use other beings for testing” is an overstatement. Of course there is.

    To take an obvious example, whenever a new drug or surgical procedure is first used to treat a sick animal, it’s by definition uncertain how well it will work. That knowledge comes only with experience. To declare that we won’t do any testing on animals would per se block any and all advances in veterinary medicine.

    Yes, I’ve read claims that computer modeling and in vitro testing (e.g. with tissue cultures) can replace animal testing, and in some cases it can, but it simply can’t replace all of it, not yet anyway. And while I have a lot of contempt for drug companies (which in practice routinely profit on drugs developed with taxpayer funds, for example), the notion that “many” cures for cancer are out there but are being suppressed for financial reasons simply doesn’t hold up to careful scrutiny. Would that it were true!

    What certainly need regulations and enforcement to ensure that the animal experiments serve a real purpose, and that animal subjects are treated as well as possible. And maybe someday science will advance to the point that animal experiments really aren’t necessary. But we’re not there yet.


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