Last updated on: 12/16/2013 10:35:15 AM PST
Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing?


PRO (yes)

Dario L. Ringach, PhD, MSc, Professor of Neurobiology and Psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles, stated in his article titled "The Use of Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Research," published in the Oct. 2011 issue of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences:

"The contributions of animal research to medical science and human health are undeniable... When the majority of scientists see the work as scientifically justified, and so do the many professional medical and scientific organizations, the expert views cannot be simply dismissed based on wild claims of ulterior motives, self-interest and conspiracy theories.

Why is the use of animals in scientific experimentation morally permissible? In my view, it is because the moral status of animals is not equal to that of humans and because opting out of the research condemns our patients (both animal and human) to suffer and die of disease. Stopping the research would be, as Darwin correctly judged, a crime against humanity. I have come to appreciate the compassion animal activists have toward animals. Paradoxically, this compassion does not seem to extent to human patients. Hopefully, animal activists will come to accept that our work is driven similarly by an honest attempt at advancing knowledge and alleviating suffering and disease in the world."

Oct. 2011 - Dario Ringach, PhD, MSc 



William T. Talman, MD, Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the University of Iowa, stated in his Dec. 7, 2012 Huffington Post article titled "Don't Have the Wool Pulled over Your Eyes":

"[C]onsider that over the past 40 years only one Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine did not depend on animal research for the fundamental discoveries that led to the prize... A quick look at the list of Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine will give you an idea not only of the vital role played by animals in biomedical research, but also the impact that research has had on humankind...

Sometimes those who seek to outlaw use of animals in research argue that testing new treatments should be done on humans, not animals. Really! Are they ready to volunteer? Even if they were, or even if some were coerced to do so (say prisoners or terminally ill patients), would we really want to move our society in that direction?...

Do not think that the only value coming from studies utilizing animals is development of cures or testing of potential cures. In fact, studying living creatures gives the scientist an opportunity to learn how living systems work. The new knowledge often expands our understanding of human physiology...

It is important to realize that studies in animals are not just done for, and do not just lead to, treatments in humans. Indeed, treatments for other animals also arise from such studies. Consider, for example, that paralyzed dogs have regained their ability to walk as a result of research conducted in rodents and dogs."

Dec. 7, 2012 - William T. Talman, MD 



The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) stated in its article titled "Benefits of Biomedical Research," available on the FBR website (accessed Oct. 24, 2013):

"From the discovery of antibiotics, analgesics, anti-depressants, and anesthetics, to the successful development of organ transplants, bypass surgery, heart catheterization, and joint replacement, practically every present-day protocol for the prevention, control, and cure of disease is based on knowledge attained through research with laboratory animals...

Animal research has also paid incalculable benefits to animals. It has resulted in many remarkable lifesaving and life-extending treatments for cats, dogs, farm animals, wildlife, and endangered species. Pacemakers, artificial joints, organ transplants, and freedom from arthritic pain are just a few of the breakthroughs made in veterinary medicine thanks to animal research. Dogs, cats, sheep, and cattle are also living longer and healthier lives thanks to vaccines for rabies, distemper, parvo virus, hepatitis, anthrax, tetanus, and feline leukemia. New treatments for glaucoma, heart disease, cancer, hip dysplasia, and traumatic injuries are saving, extending, and enhancing the lives of beloved pets while advanced reproductive techniques are helping to preserve and protect threatened and endangered species."

Oct. 24, 2013 - Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) 



Laurie Pycroft, founder of Pro-Test (UK), stated in a June 2011 debate titled "Is Animal Testing Necessary to Advance Medical Research?," posted on the New Internationalist website:

"Without the ability to use animals in their research, scientists’ efforts would be massively hampered, not only in the direct development of new treatments, but also in the fundamental research which underpins all biomedical knowledge. For example, it was Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley’s work on the nerves of squid that elucidated the basis of nervous transmission; and it was John C Eccles’ work on cats’ spinal cords that first incontrovertibly demonstrated the nature of the synapse, earning him a share of the 1963 Nobel in Physiology, along with Hodgkin and Huxley. Without their work on animals, we would know far less about the workings of our own nervous systems and how to treat them...

[R]esearchers have devised many routes of minimizing inter-species variation, such as the use of transgenic animals – genetically altered to replicate human physiology more closely. This has additional benefits, including shorter generation-span, allowing scientists to perform experiments which simply would not be possible using humans (even ignoring ethical concerns)...

Claiming that microfluidics and microdosing can analyze drug effects on a full living system is absurd. How can a fluid-based chip replicate the most basic heart, let alone a human one? Microdosing can be useful for studying uptake mechanisms of a drug, but gives extremely limited information on its efficacy at treating a condition. 'Alternatives' are already widely used in research, but expecting them to replace animal tests in the near future is hugely naïve."

June 2011 - Laurie Pycroft 



The American Heart Association stated in its "Public Policy Agenda 2010-14," available at heart.org (accessed Oct. 29, 2013):

"Animal research has improved the health and welfare of animals and humans. The decline in death rates in the United States from heart disease and stroke since the 1960s is due to lifestyle changes and new methods of treatment and prevention, many of which are based on animal research."


Oct. 29, 2013 - American Heart Association 



Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) stated in its article titled "Animal Research," posted on the AMP website (accessed Oct. 24, 2013):

"Animal research plays a crucial role in scientists' understanding of diseases and in the development of effective medical treatments.

Research animals provide scientists with complex living systems consisting of cells, tissues and organs.  Animal models can interact and react to stimuli, giving researchers a picture of a compound moving through a living system and an idea of how that stimuli might react in a human being.  Animals are biologically similar to humans in many ways and they are vulnerable to over 200 of the same health problems.  This makes them an effective model for researchers to study."

Oct. 24, 2013 - Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) 



The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) stated in its "Animal Research FAQ," posted on the AALAS website (accessed Oct. 23, 2013):

"The use of animals in research is a privilege that must be carefully guarded to assure human and animal relief from the specter of disease and suffering. To ignore human and animal suffering is irresponsible and unethical. Nearly every major medical advance of the 20th century has depended largely on research with animals. Our best hope for developing preventions, treatments and cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, AIDS and cancer will also involve biomedical research using animals. In fact, research on animals is in many cases an obligation. According to the Nuremburg Code, drawn up after World War II as a result of Nazi atrocities, any experiments on humans 'should be designed and based on the results of animal experimentation.'... The Declaration of Helsinki, adopted in 1964 by the 18th World Medical Assembly and revised in 1975, also states that medical research on human subjects 'should be based on adequately performed laboratory and animal experimentation.'"

Oct. 23, 2013 - American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) 



Tom Holder, founder of Speaking of Research, stated in his Jan. 14, 2013 article titled "Animal Research Is an Ethical and Vital Tool to Fight Disease," posted on the Harvard Law Petrie-Flom Center blog "Bill of Health":

"In the US alone there are over 95 million prescriptions every year for asthma medications, primarily inhalers. So what can over 25 million American asthma sufferers thank for making their lives manageable? The guinea pigs and frogs which allowed scientists to gain the underlying understanding about how chemical nerve transmitters helped to control the muscles in the airways, as well as create reliever inhalers with a long duration of action.

This is just one example of a long list of medical achievements made possible by animal research which include insulin (dogs and rabbits), polio vaccine (monkeys), anaesthetics (rabbits), blood transfusion (monkeys, dogs), antibiotics to cure tuberculosis (guinea pigs), asthma treatment (frogs and guinea pigs), meningitis vaccine (mice), deep brain stimulation (monkeys), penicillin (mice)...

In a country where we eat 9 billion chickens and 150 million cattle, pigs and sheep every year, 25 million (approx.) animals (96% is estimated to be mice, rats, birds and fish) seems a small price to pay for medical progress."

Jan. 14, 2013 - Tom Holder 



AnimalResearch.info stated in its article titled "Why Animals Are Used," posted on its website (accessed Oct. 24, 2013):

"Animals are used in research when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole, living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts. It is difficult, and in most cases simply not yet possible, to replace the use of living animals in research with alternative methods...

Humans and animals share hundreds of illnesses, and consequently animals can act as models for the study of human illness. For example, rabbits suffer from atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), as well as diseases such as emphysema, and birth defects such as spina bifida. Dogs suffer from cancer, diabetes, cataracts, ulcers and bleeding disorders such as haemophilia, which make them natural candidates for research into these disorders. Cats suffer from some of the same visual impairments as humans...

New medicines require testing because researchers must measure both the beneficial and the harmful effects of a compound on a whole organism. A medicine is initially tested in vitro using tissues and isolated organs, but legally and ethically it must also be tested in a suitable animal model before clinical trials in humans can take place."

Oct. 24, 2013 - AnimalResearch.info 



The American Physiological Society (APS) said in its July 16, 2010 position statement titled "Animal Research Is Essential to the Search for Cures," posted on the APS website:

"Humane research involving animals provides unique insights into biological structure and function. These insights offer major benefits to both human and animal health. The American Physiological Society is strongly committed to ensuring that research animals are treated humanely and that their use is regulated appropriately.

Biomedical research today involves a wide array of approaches that make use of computers, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and whole animals. Each approach addresses different elements of a research question. Together, they offer a full complement of ways to learn about living systems. Animal studies are particularly crucial for understanding how the body functions in health and disease. Basic and translational research involving animals is a necessary component in the search for causes, preventions, treatments, and cures for disease."

July 16, 2010 - American Physiological Society (APS) 



The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) said in its "Position Statement on Animal Experimentation," posted at aclam.org (accessed Oct. 29, 2013):

"Scientific research requiring laboratory animals continues to result in spectacular achievements that have advanced our understanding of life and treatment of disease. Continued progress – to benefit human and animal health – requires further animal experimentation because there is, as yet, no single or array of alternative systems that permit the complete replacement for animals. Basic and applied research with animals provides invaluable and currently irreplaceable means to study human conditions because there are so many similarities between the physiology and genetics of animals and humans. While not all systems in animals and man are exactly the same, the differences in many cases are sufficiently small that animals can serve as relevant models for man or other species. Humane and responsible animal research offers the best hope for the development of new methods of prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering. Animal based research is and will be, for the foreseeable future, indispensable to biomedical progress – for humans and animals."

Oct. 29, 2013 - American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) 



Johnson & Johnson, a US-based multinational maker of medical devices, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods, stated in its article titled "Animal Research," posted on its website (accessed Oct. 24, 2013):

"The use of animals in the development of our products is sometimes required to ensure products are safe and effective. In fact, alternatives to animal testing techniques, commonly called in vitro techniques, do not generate all of the pre-clinical data required by government agencies to bring new products to market. Therefore, health care companies must combine in vitro tests with animal (in vivo) research to fulfill our scientific, legal and ethical obligations to provide safe and effective products."

Oct. 24, 2013 - Johnson & Johnson 



Charles Darwin, MA, British naturalist and originator of the theory of evolution, stated in a letter printed in the Times (UK), dated Apr. 14, 1881 and available at darwin-online.org.uk:

"I have all my life been a strong advocate for humanity to animals, and have done what I could in my writings to enforce this duty... On the other hand, I know that physiology cannot possibly progress except by means of experiments on living animals, and I feel the deepest conviction that he who retards the progress of physiology commits a crime against mankind."

Apr. 14, 1881 - Charles Darwin, MA 



CON (no)

Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH, neurologist and author of Animals and Public Health: Why Treating Animals Better Is Critical to Human Welfare, stated in her Oct. 21, 2013 email to ProCon.org:

"Regardless of any role animal experiments may have played in the past, the mounting evidence shows that using animals today is largely ineffective in helping us understand human physiology, predict human toxins and find useful drugs. Despite some similarities between humans and non-human animals, medicine now deals with the subtle nuances of physiological mechanisms and genetics that are unique to humans. While animals may be 'whole models,' they are the wrong whole models because of inter-species differences.

Failures of animal experiments have led to human harm. Moreover, misleading animal experiments may have caused the abandonment of effective drugs and cures. One can’t help wonder: how many people would have been saved if we used more effective human-based testing methods?

Animal experimentation is a relic of the past. Instead of wasting time, human and animal lives, and our tax dollars on misleading animal experiments, we must devote our resources into finding and using sophisticated human-based tests that mimic the whole human body. Our lives depend on this."

Oct. 21, 2013 - Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH 



Jane Goodall, PhD, ethologist and author, stated in her Mar. 17, 2012 op-ed for the Times (UK) titled "So Much Animal Pain, So Little Human Gain":

"In the name of science or medicine, animals are subjected to countless invasive, frightening and sometimes very painful procedures. We all want to see cures for terrible diseases such as Parkinson's (which afflicted my mother), cancer (to which I lost my husband), multiple sclerosis and so on, but regardless of how much or how little these experiments benefit human health, should we exploit animals in this way?

Animal experimenters often justify such research by claiming the existence in humans of some morally relevant characteristics, such as intelligence, language, or consciousness, that are supposedly absent in other species. But we are fast discovering a great deal about high levels of intelligence in many animal species, and too about animal consciousness, emotions and sensitivity to pain...

We need a new mindset for the 21st century. Most experimenters, while acknowledging that animals are sentient and sometimes sapient beings, say that some will always have to be used but they will use as few and treat them as well as possible. Instead, let us admit that the practice is morally and ethically unacceptable. We need to move on.

The amazing human brain has already discovered astonishingly innovative ways of improving medical research by replacing animals. Let science direct its collectively awesome intellect toward finding alternatives to the use of live animals in all proceduresas soon as possible. This should be supported by the scientific establishment and vastly increased funding should be found for it. It should be a goal for all civilised societies."

Mar. 17, 2012 - Jane Goodall, PhD 



Humane Society International (HSI) stated in its article titled "About Animal Testing," posted on the HSI website (accessed Oct. 28, 2013):

"Aside from the ethical issues they pose—inflicting both physical pain as well as psychological distress and suffering on large numbers of sentient creatures—animal tests are time- and resource-intensive, restrictive in the number of substances that can be tested, provide little understanding of how chemicals behave in the body, and in many cases do not correctly predict real-world human reactions. Similarly, health scientists are increasingly questioning the relevance of research aimed at 'modeling' human diseases in the laboratory by artificially creating symptoms in other animal species.

Trying to mirror human diseases or toxicity by artificially creating symptoms in mice, dogs or monkeys has major scientific limitations that cannot be overcome. Very often the symptoms and responses to potential treatments seen in other species are dissimilar to those of human patients. As a consequence, nine out of every 10 candidate medicines that appear safe and effective in animal studies fail when given to humans. Drug failures and research that never delivers because of irrelevant animal models not only delay medical progress, but also waste resources and risk the health and safety of volunteers in clinical trials."


Oct. 28, 2013 - Humane Society International (HSI) 



Peter Singer, MA, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, stated in the 2009 edition of his book Animal Liberation:

"The practice of experimenting on nonhuman animals as it exists today throughout the world reveals the consequences of speciesism. Many experiments inflict severe pain without the remotest prospect of significant benefits for human beings or any other animals. Such experiments are not isolated incidences, but part of a major industry...

We tolerate cruelties inflicted on members of other species that would outrage us if performed on members of our own species. Speciesism allows researchers to regard the animals they experiment on as items of equipment, laboratory tools rather than living, suffering creatures. In fact, on grant applications to government funding agencies, animals are listed as 'supplies' alongside test tubes and recording instruments...

The exploitation of laboratory animals is part of the larger problem of speciesism and it is unlikely to be eliminated altogether until speciesism itself is eliminated. Surely one day, though, our children's children, reading about what was done in laboratories in the 20th Century, will feel the same sense of horror and incredulity at what otherwise civilized people could do that we now feel when we read about the atrocities of the Roman gladiatorial arenas or the eighteenth-century slave trade."

2009 - Peter Singer, MA 



Marc Bekoff, PhD, former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, wrote in an Oct. 11, 2013 email to ProCon.org:

"There is no reason to continue to use nonhuman animals for scientific or commercial testing. There are ample non-animal alternatives that are readily available that are just as good or better in the Ethical, Economical, and Educational arenas. Many teachers and researchers agree with this point of view."

Oct. 11, 2013 - Marc Bekoff, PhD 



Andrew Knight, PhD, veterinarian and Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, stated in his July 12, 2012 article titled "Animal Testing Isn't Just an Ethical Problem – Let's Invest in Safer Methods," posted at theguardian.com:

"I analysed in detail 27 systematic reviews examining the contributions of animal experiments to human healthcare. Their outcomes are remarkably consistent. Animal studies rarely contribute to the development of clinical interventions effective in human patients.

It's not hard to fathom why. Animals have a plethora of genetic, biochemical and physiological differences that alter disease progression, drug uptake, distribution and effect. Stressful environments and experiments are common, and distort outcomes. Additionally, numerous studies have revealed scientific flaws in the design of many animal experiments."

July 12, 2012 - Andrew Knight, PhD 



People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stated in its article titled "Animal Testing Is Bad Science: Point/Counterpoint," posted on the PETA website (accessed Oct. 2, 2013):

"Most animal experiments are not relevant to human health, they do not contribute meaningfully to medical advances and many are undertaken simply of out [sic] curiosity and do not even pretend to hold promise for curing illnesses. The only reason people are under the misconception that animal experiments help humans is because the media, experimenters, universities and lobbying groups exaggerate the potential of animal experiments to lead to new cures and the role they have played in past medical advances...

Because animal tests are so unreliable, they make... human trials all the more risky. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has noted that 92 percent of all drugs that are shown to be safe and effective in animal tests fail in human trials because they don’t work or are dangerous.  And of the small percentage that are approved for human use, half are relabeled because of side effects that were not identified in animal tests...

Taking a healthy being from a completely different species, artificially inducing a condition that he or she would never normally contract, keeping him or her in an unnatural and distressful environment, and trying to apply the results to naturally occurring diseases in human beings is dubious at best..."

Oct. 2, 2013 - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 



The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) stated in its article titled "Problems with Animal Research," posted on the AAVS website (accessed Oct. 23, 2013):

"Scientists use animals in biological and medical research more as a matter of tradition, not because animal research has proved particularly successful or better than other modes of experimentation. In fact, animal ‘models’ have never been validated, and the claim that animals are necessary for biomedical research is unsupported by the scientific literature. Instead, there is growing awareness of the limitations of animal research and its inability to make reliable predictions about human health.

The biomedical research community and its affiliated trade associations routinely attempt to convince the general public, media, and government representatives that the current controversy over the use of animals is a life-and-death contest pitting defenders of human health and scientific advancement against hordes of anti-science, anti-human, emotional, irrational activists. Such a deliberate, simplistic dichotomy is not only false, but ignores the very real and well-documented ethical and scientific problems associated with the use of animal experiments that characterize modern biomedical research, testing, and its associated industries.

The biomedical community would instead be better served by promoting increased funding and research efforts for the development of non-animal models that overcome the pressing ethical and scientific limitations of an increasingly archaic system of animal experimentation."

Oct. 23, 2013 - American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) 



C. Ray Greek, MD, President and Co-Founder of Americans For Medical Advancement (AFMA), stated in his Oct. 29, 2013 email to ProCon.org:

"The basis for testing animals prior to human consumption of new medications or releasing new chemicals is that animals offer predictive value for outcomes or conditions in humans. The same is true for using animals in research aimed to find the cause of human disease. In science, predictive value has a very specific meaning and can be calculated. For decades, scientists have known that the positive and negative predictive value for animal models is not useful—the values are so low that scientists know no more about the value or danger of a drug or chemical than they did before testing on animals. Despite this proven lack of value, the process has continued for many reasons. The predictive value of using animals to find causes of, and thereby potential targets for, curing human diseases is even lower. Ethical, human-based research and testing is available and should be more widely implemented."

Oct. 29, 2013 - C. Ray Greek, MD 



In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal rights and rescue organization, stated in its article titled "Responsible Research," posted on its website (accessed Oct. 24, 2013):

"It is possible, in the twenty-first century, to conduct a vast array of experiments without using animals and to derive better results more quickly and at less cost.

Cutting-edge technology has forged new frontiers with the use of lasers, fiber optics, microchips, genomics, computer-based drug design, and digital imaging, to name a few... These methods have contributed to a technological revolution in biomedical research and rendered the reliance on animals outdated.

Scientists have only just begun to tap the potential of these new technologies. Their full potential can never be realized while dependence on animal models persists. Reliance on animals continues, not because it is effective, but due to inertia, lack of training, vested financial interests and adherence to outdated traditions...

If we took a fraction of the resources currently devoted to animal experiments and put those towards developing and expanding non-animal methods, we could vastly reduce the use of animals immediately and pave way for the day that they are no longer used at all."

Oct. 24, 2013 - In Defense of Animals (IDA) 



Theodora Capaldo, EdD, President and Executive Director of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), stated in her Jan. 14, 2013 article titled "Inadequate Laws Don’t – but Research Alternatives Will – Protect Animals in Labs," posted on the Harvard Law Petrie-Flom Center blog "Bill of Health":

"Animals in labs suffer tremendously in the name of science. However, systematic analysis of biomedical literature shows that animals have given us inadequate or erroneous information in human disease and toxicology and that in many cases medical breakthroughs were delayed by dependence on animal models...

Even in a species’ whose DNA is nearly identical to humans, the chimpanzee, gene variations and expression result in vast important differences that render even the chimpanzee an 'unnecessary' model to study human health and disease. Species differences exist in the process by which a drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated, and in the causes, progression, and outcome of diseases. As a result, for example, a mouse may develop cancer in the same location as a human, but they are not the same cancers...

Non-animal methods are superior on all fronts: they are more efficient, accurate, and cost-effective than animal experiments. Using human cell cultures to test toxicity yields 76-84% accurate prediction, illuminates specific organ damage, and other more meaningful results than animal tests which hover around 46-50% accuracy, literally no better than a coin flip."

Jan. 14, 2013 - Theodora Capaldo, EdD 



Mark Twain, American writer and humorist, stated in his May 26, 1899 letter to the London Anti-Vivisection Society, available in the 2010 book titled Mark Twain's Book of Animals, edited by Shelley Fisher Fishkin:

"I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn't. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts on unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, & is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further."

May 26, 1899 - Mark Twain