Discussion Topic: It is OK to use animals in research if it benefits humans



comments by: Thor May - thormay@yahoo.com; http://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay ; http://thormay.net

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The following links are preliminary and make no claim to systematic collection. Suggestions for additional references are welcome.




[http://www.animalresearchcures.org/typesneeded.htm ]













1. These are entirely personal comments, and not based upon any deep knowledge of the field. I have no dog in this fight. The comments may serve as one possible starting point (for or against) for the discussion.


2. Animals used for medical research comprise a very small part of animals put to death annually by humans, mostly for food. For example, 10 billion animals are killed for food in USA alone each year. There is little we can do personally about the death toll (humans are cheerfully omnivorous, and that will not change), but we can regulate the manner of animal death, minimize suffering, and try eliminate unnecessary deaths.


3. A vast amount of research is also done upon farm animals by the agribusiness industry to maximize returns and minimize losses before supermarket presentation. For example, someone has referred me to what looks like a ridiculous graph about milk production per head of cow in America from 1924 to 2008 : http://owenzidar.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/surprisingly-strong-productivity-growth-in-unexpected-places/ The graph shows a huge linear increase of output for this biological creature. I could understand a curve leveling off from a low base, but this is going ever upward (??!!). I consulted a relative in the dairy business and found that the statistic was right. The animal cost however has been more sickness for the cows with constant medication, and a shorter life span.

4. In the West, from early classical times until about the 17th  century there seems to have been a sort of prohibition on the dissection of animals or humans for research. Apparently is was a religious proscription, though a little curious given the horrendous forms of torture and abuse routinely inflicted by people on each other, and by those in power, not to mention prospects of a Christian hell.

5. My own perspective on using animals for medical research is that it can be justified in specific instances when the outcome is to genuinely relieve human suffering. In reality of course, outcomes cannot be known in advance in true scientific research.  Predictably that uncertainty is exploited, sometimes criminally, more often through the inertia of institutions, agendas of personal ambition, commercial vested interests, and above all through a proliferation of dubious experimentation to maintain careers in avenues of research where useful outcomes are unlikely. Thus the ethical dimension of animal research is severely clouded by human failings, whatever the original good intentions. This seems to be the story of human enterprise in every endeavour. As always, we can only mitigate the evil, never eliminate it






Anonymous (3 October, 2013) “Do Fish Feel Pain?” Concepts Sandbox blog, online @ http://conceptsandbox.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/review-do-fish-feel-pain/  

Anonymous (2 October, 2013) “Should I Experiment on Animals?” Concepts Sandbox blog, online @ http://conceptsandbox.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/should-i-experiment-on-animals/  

Anonymous (3 October, 2013) “When is it OK to kill stuff?” . Concepts Sandbox blog, online @ http://conceptsandbox.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/when-is-it-okay-to-kill-stuff/  


Australian Government (2013) “Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th edition (2013). National Health & Medical Research Council (NMHRC). online @ http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/ea28


Brisbane Times (May 5, 2012) “Give and you shall receive - new rules give priority to organ donors http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/give-and-you-shall-receive--new-rules-give-priority-to-organ-donors-20120504-1y48z.html#ixzz2fgPnMAcg


Engber, Daniel (November 16, 2011) “The Mouse Trap - The dangers of using one lab animal to study every disease.” Slate Magazine. online @ http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_mouse_trap/2011/11/lab_mice_are_they_limiting_our_understanding_of_human_disease_.html


Engber, Daniel (November 16, 2011) “The Anti-Mouse -  Could a hairless African rodent be our secret weapon in the war on cancer?” Slate Magazine. online @ http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_mouse_trap/2011/11/naked_mole_rats_can_they_help_us_cure_cancer_.html


Engber, Daniel (November 17, 2011) "The Trouble with Black-6". [ref. mice and the history of biomedical research]. Slate Magazine. online @ http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_mouse_trap/2011/11/black_6_lab_mice_and_the_history_of_biomedical_research.html


Engber, Daniel (February 14, 2013) “Septic Shock - Years of research into inflammatory disease, costing billions of dollars in research funding, has been wasted on the lowly mouse.” Slate Magazine. online @ http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_mouse_trap/2013/02/lab_mouse_models_of_inflammation_for_burns_sepsis_trauma_animal_testing.single.html


Fallows, James (October 11, 2013) "Friday Shutdown Reader: The Impending Meaningless Deaths of Lab Animals. The prospect for research animals is grim at best. The shutdown removes all purpose from their sacrifice." The Atlantic, online @ http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/friday-shutdown-reader-the-impending-meaningless-deaths-of-lab-animals/280519/


Government of NSW (2013) “Animal Ethics Infolink”. NSW Department of Primary Industries and Animal Research Review Panel. online @ http://www.animalethics.org.au/code-of-practice


Hadley, John (2 October, 2012). “Nothing to Hide: Opening the Files on Animal Research”. The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/nothing-to-hide-opening-the-files-on-animal-research-9686


Heath, Joan (9 May 2013). “Animals in research: zebrafish”. The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/animals-in-research-zebrafish-13804


McNally, Gavin (9 July 2013) “Animals in Research: Benefits, Ethics and Assessment”. The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/animals-in-research-benefits-ethics-and-assessment-15467


Merkes, Monica (6 August, 2012). “Animal research provides a flawed model, so why not stop?” The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/animal-research-provides-a-flawed-model-so-why-not-stop-7890


Murali, Swetha Srinivasa (9 August 2012). “Animal-based research is still relevant and necessary”. The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/animal-based-research-is-still-relevant-and-necessary-8700


Phillips, Jacqueline; Alison Hogan, and Erin Lynch (18 September 2013). “Animals in research: rats”. The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/animals-in-research-rats-16634


Richmond, John (2007) “Animal Welfare and the ISO – the International Organization for Standardization”. Proceedings, 6th World Congress on Alternatives & Animal Use in the Life Sciences, AATEX 14, Special Issue, 723-726. online @ http://altweb.jhsph.edu/wc6/paper723.pdf


Sanger, Gareth (29 July 2013). “Cut down on animal research by building a human tissue lab”. The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/cut-down-on-animal-testing-by-building-a-human-tissue-lab-15525


SciShow (18 September, 2013) “Human Experimentation: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”.  Youtube Video, online @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRwWxELXakA [comment: Wow. Considering what they’ve done to humans, guess where animals rate …]


The American Physiological Society (2012) "What types of animals are needed for medical research?". online @ http://www.animalresearchcures.org/typesneeded.htm


UAR (2013) Understanding Animal Research; [name of website]. UK; online @ http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/


Wikipedia (2013). “Alternatives to Animal Testing”. online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternatives_to_animal_testing


Wright, Andrew (7 August, 2013). “Animals in research: do the costs outweigh the benefits?” The  Conversation website, online @ http://theconversation.com/animals-in-research-do-the-costs-outweigh-the-benefits-16390

Zidar, Owen (June 25, 2013) “Surprisingly Strong Productivity Growth in Unexpected Places”. Owenzidar blog, online @ http://owenzidar.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/surprisingly-strong-productivity-growth-in-unexpected-places/  







by Arden Davidson

I can't. I quit.
I won't. That's it.
I'm done. I'm through.
No more.

No chance. I'm gone.
Forget it. So long.
Goodbye. I'm out
the door.

Drop it. Leave it.
Not maybe. No, never!
Not ever. No way.
No how.

You can't get me,
just 3 foot 3
to milk that
angry cow.

© Arden Davidson 1998






It is OK to use animals in research if it benefits humans (c) Thor May 2013


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