For decades, impressive advances in science have been made possible due to animal testing. We’ve been able to discover new medicines and forms of treatment, allowing us to extend the human lifespan and increase the standard of living. However, is all this progress worth animal experimentation and the suffering they experience? We don’t discuss this issue enough, and I can’t help but think it’s because we’ve become numb to these practices. 

In the name of science, it’s easy to say that some sacrifices have to be made. But the hypocritical nature of selecting who and what is utilized for experimentation makes me question the entire practice. Let’s first establish that in the past, we most definitely used actual people for testing, because the lines regarding ethics were extremely blurred. Metaphorically, if ethical guidelines were a crosswalk, then literally everyone was accustomed to casual jaywalking and the resulting car accidents and body count. 

Since then, we’ve come a considerable way in regulating our research to avoid a complete disregard for basic humanity. What’s weird, though, is how the animals with whom we have less of a personal connection are the target of our experimentation. Mentioning an influential experiment that revolved around rats garners little to no reaction, but talk about the ones with dogs and cats and you’ll see the outrage. 

Size, lifespan, and ease of obtaining large numbers are, of course, factors in choosing animals like rats as test subjects. But this is more about public perspective. If the treatment of animals revolves around the cutest of the animal kingdom, then what kind of empathy are we really expressing by abiding by the laws we have now? Either every potential creature is up for grabs, or none of them should be.

And it’s also not like we’ve only been testing animals for healthcare purposes. In order to test the safety of products such as make-up palettes, animals like cows have been and are still used so companies can avoid lawsuits should their products be found hazardous. So, is it just a superiority complex that drives people to do this rather than a real sense of ethics? Because as of now, our rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed in terms of animal treatment are flimsy at best. A multitude of loopholes exist so we are still able to do what we want, and it ultimately comes down to the idea that human life  simply takes  priority over other organisms’ lives.

Thinking about alternatives is difficult, because once you’ve gotten used to one way of doing things, finding a practical yet different solution is a challenge. If no one really cares about the ethicss of animal testing,why make any changes? Why not continue what we are doing now and allow for the discovery of new products that can continue to improve our lives? 

I think the bigger problem here is that people just don’t consider this perspective at all. Our society can deem animal testing a harsh means to a vital end, and we will proceed as we do now. My point is mainly that the nature of animal testing is a complex issue, but the normalization of its practices lead to too few discussions about its implications in  our society. It should be a more mainstream problem, especially considering its relevance to the ever-expanding field of science and technology. Whether it is maintained or abolished is a separate matter altogether.

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