Animal abuse in laboratories

by mylz77 on November 12, 2014 - 7:55pm

This article presents a neurological experiment that has been conducted by six scientists from different organization. It was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2013, one year after the research. It describes the issue of animal abuse in scientific research. The main purpose of this study was to examine the development of the vision in primates including humans and non-humans. To make their experiences, they used one of the best-known species of monkeys: the rhesus macaque. Fifteen of them had been selected whether five 4-week old, four 8-week old and 6 adults. The researcher first anesthetised the monkeys to conduct a brain surgery during which electrodes were implanted. Then, the monkeys were paralyzed and placed in a head frame to record electrode lasting 2 to 4 days. After several days of electrode recording trials, the baby monkeys were killed and their brain cut for further studies. Finally, they compared the neural pathways with those that have already been studied in adult monkeys. The scientists described their findings as not surprising because they argue that baby monkeys already have functional vision at birth. So all that suffering and waste of life for nothing.


Monkeys are often used in neurological research because, out of all animal species, they are the one who are the most neurologically similar to humans. But, is it ethical to make a cruel experiment on newborn rhesus monkeys that yield no new knowledge or advancement in the development of vision in humans? Or to be more general, when, if ever, the use of non-human animals in scientific research is ethical?  


This subject is very complex because it is a question of where we should draw the line. Most people agree that the welfare of humans should be prioritized over the welfare of animals. This is the main argument in favor of animal testing. What is more debated is whether or not people should benefit at the expense of animals. In the particular case you discussed, I am absolutely against what the scientists did to the baby monkeys. To have such extensive abuse of animals with little to no benefit to humans is wrong. I am only in favor of conducting research on animals when the animals are simplistic, such as rats, and when the experiment will lead to significant scientific advances. Unfortunately, what defines animals as simplistic enough and advances to be significant enough to justify animal testing, is a matter of opinion that will be different for each person. There is not a dividing line between when it is ethical and when it is not.
My experiences have definitely shaped my opinion on this subject. I grew up with a love for science because both of my parents were engineers. Being around their work made me fascinated with all areas of science. At the same time, I have loved animals for as long as I can remember. Growing up with pets and Disney movies that personified animals most likely impacted this. Because I grew up with an appreciation for both science and animals, I am very divided on the whether or not it is ethical to use animals for scientific research.
I liked that you used a detailed example in your post; however the story and phrasing might lead the reader to a form a biased opinion. In the future, it might be helpful to include an additional story of when using non-human animals for research led to a great advancement in scientific and medical knowledge. This way, the reader gains a broader perspective of a complex matter.

In my opinion, animal abuse/animal testing is probably one of most touching and heart breaking subjects simply because animals are living and breathing beings, that have emotions and feelings yet humans still continue to mercilessly kill, torture and test on animals of all kinds for the betterment of the ''smarter'' species. It is not a question of intelligence or alpha species, the moral issue boils down to dominance and power. It is unethical to treat these animals with such disrespect and intentional neglect, simply for our benefit. Fur coats, new medicine or better knowledge is just, but only when each animal is treated fairly and taken care of.
In the study you were talking about, rhesus monkeys were being caged and left to die, all in the name of proving or supporting a theory. Why is it that humans do not test on humans if the results they are looking for are to benefit humans? We simply wish to avoid taking responsibility for ''unethical'' treatment of a person. Animals feel pain like we do. it is also hypocritical to adopt a pet and call it our own, while we go to the store the next day and buy a fur coat. This is why Utilitarianism fits perfectly with my opinion on this subject. Utilitarianism protects all individuals, even animals. All parties of an act, directly or indirectly affected by the act, are abused or not as satisfied as the group/individual that commits the act, it is considered immoral. The only reason why animal abuse is ongoing is because animals simply do not speak the same language as we do. Why is it that humans have created a criminal code? Because we can speak out against injustices; animals cannot. We seem to think that we are the greater species among all on earth, although this is not what we should focus on when judging th morality of an issue. All animals and beings are equal, and should equally have their needs met, including happiness, safety and right to life.
Take a look at this link if you wish to further your readings on Utilitarianism and animal testing:
The website takes a look at Utilitarianism in general, whether or not animals can have wants, practical purposes of an animal, wildlife and some counterarguments as well.