October 30, 2016
Dear Mr. or Mrs. President:
Innovations in the medical field have led to the discovery of cures for diseases that have plague mankind for centuries. This advancement in medical technology can be largely attributed to the impact of animal research, which has fueled medical innovations ever since the seventeenth century. However, ethical concerns are raised when considering the costs and benefits that animal research inherently carries. Animals that are tested in laboratories are often held captive in unhealthy conditions and are treated harshly during research procedures. The question that is therefore raised is whether or not the pain and suffering that animals experience during the testing of medicines is worth the benefit of new products and medicines being tested on animals before being safely used by humans to cure life-threatening diseases.
Undoubtedly, animal research is the best method for testing medicines and their effects before they are used by humans. Ethically speaking, testing newly created products on humans would never be accepted, so animals are a logical substitute. The similarities between the structure and function of the bodies of animals that are used in testing, including mice, cats, and dogs, and the bodies of humans allow for a high percentage of reproducibility between the results of products tested on animals and the results of the same products when used by humans. Many clamor for the use of new safer and less harmful methods that have recently been developed, such as testing on computer simulations of animal models, in substitution for animal research, but these methods are extremely unreliable in their infancy and must be developed further before they can safely predict the effects of medicine on humans. The benefits of animal research are evident, when considering the long list of products that have been successfully tested on animals: longer-lasting insulins, Crixivan for treating HIV, folic acid, etc.
However, the cruelty of animal research is just as evident as its benefits. In order to cut the costs of animal care, animal researchers are constantly on the lookout for loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act, a law that protects animals from abuse in the laboratory. The most common way to do this is to invoke the statement “research institutions also have the option of exempting some animals from the protections of the AWA, if they can document that such exemptions were necessary for scientific reasons.” Of course, these “exemptions” are often common, as research institutions will eagerly argue that a certain exemption was made for scientific reasons, even if it was made to cut costs of animal care. As a result, animals are often subject to painful experiments without anesthesia, isolated housing, and restricted access to food and water when in research facilities.
The solution should not be to end animal research, but to create more regulations that will account for loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act. The benefits of animal research are too great to ignore and terminating the process would be putting the lives of people all over the world to fatal diseases. The Animal Welfare Act is not sufficient to protect animals so more regulations need to be in place. Research institutions should not have the option to make exemptions for scientific reasons, as their purpose is already for scientific advancement. There should also be more regulations as what the baseline conditions in research facilities should be. Organizations working for animal welfare such as the USDA and APHIS should carry out more frequent investigations of the conditions within facilities, and impose heavy fines and penalties for those facilities that do not meet the requirements for conditions.
Mr. or Mrs. President, I hope you will work to ensure the safety of animals in research that are paying a huge price for human benefit. Perhaps one day safer alternative methods for research can be developed to be as effective as animal research is. Until then, the country shares a responsibility to make animal research as safe to animals and as beneficial to humans as it can possibly be.
Kevin C., Student, Newbury Park High School
456 N Reino Rd,
Newbury Park, CA 91320