Animal testing is the testing of products on animals to evaluate their potential toxicity to humans or the environment. Animal testing is common in medical research to experiment the efficacy and safety of new drugs. Laboratory model animals are used to experiment new drugs to determine their potential to treat human conditions. It is also done in cosmetic industry to assess the safety of cosmetic products and their ingredients before recommending them for consumer use.
However, animal testing raises many ethical concerns over the inhumane treatment of the experimental animals. Cosmetic animal testing is particularly unjustified because animals undergo so much discomfort and suffering only for the improvement of human appearance. Animal testing for medical research on the other hand, is important in discovery of new drugs that lead to improvement of human health and is thus justified.
Cosmetic and Medical Animal Testing
Animals are used in cosmetic research to evaluate the toxicity of skin and eye products and their ingredients on humans. According to Mcneal, these products have to be tested to avoid any potential harmful effects on consumers (Para. 9). However, animal testing in the cosmetic industry is not only ethically incorrect but also trivial given the suffering the test animals have to undergo.
The justification of the harm to animals is not worth the benefit to humans in cosmetic research as compared to animal testing for research. In addition, there are other alternative procedures other than animal testing (Woods 65). The main non-animal test used in the cosmetic industry involves in vitro test of the ingredients and cosmetic products before approving them for use. This is known as the Neutral Red Uptake Assay.
Medical animal testing though controversial has many medical benefits and thus can be considered ethical and justified. Advance in medicine and in drug discovery can be attributed to use of animals for biomedical research. Model animals are used in the discovery of cures for many diseases and disorders that afflict humans. Genetically manipulated model animals are used in medical research especially cancer research because the animal data is relevant and applicable to humans (Monamy 114).
Animals also benefit from medical animal testing. Through animal testing, new vaccines, surgical procedures and organ transplants that prevent diseases that affecting animals and humans have been developed like the development of a vaccine against Feline Leukemia virus.
Although alternatives of animal testing for medical research like computer modeling exist, animals like rabbits and mice still make a useful test model for medicines. This is because the body systems or organs of animals are nearly similar to humans and majority of the diseases that affect animals affect humans.
The use of animals in both medical and cosmetic research is controversial because of the inhumane treatment of the test animals. To minimize this treatment, some ethical issues ought to be considered.
Baird and Rosebaum posit, “Alternatives to replace animal testing like tissue culture or computer modeling are important” (54). Moreover, when conducting animal testing, a minimum number of animal necessary to get reliable results should be used and the procedure should be done in a controlled environment to reduce suffering of the animals.
The benefits of biomedical animal testing are many including discovery of new drugs and vaccines that treat many human diseases. In addition, medical animal testing aids in the discovery of animal drugs and vaccines.
Testing cosmetics on animals, however, is unnecessary because the human benefits do not justify the inhumane treatment of the animals. Nevertheless, medical animal testing should be done under controlled conditions to minimize suffering of the test animals. Considering the benefits of animal testing to medicine, animal research is important.
Baird, Robert, and Rosenbaum, Stuart. “The Animal Experimentation: The moral Issues (Contemporary Issues).” New York: Prometheus Books, 1991.
The book provides ethical perspectives to animal research. It also outlines the reason for supporting the animal testing particularly for medical purposes.
McNeal, Kelly. “Death: The Price of Beauty: Animal Testing and the Cosmetic industry.” 2006. Web.
This resourceful website outlines the use of animal testing in cosmetic research including the skin and eye products to determine their safety for human use. It also states the alternatives to animal testing for cosmetic products.
Monamy, Vaughan. “Animal Experimentation: A Guide to the Issues.” New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
The author discusses the historical background of animal experimentation and the rise of modern medical research. It also addresses the reasons of opposition of the animal experimentation and the alternatives to animal testing.
Woods, Geraldine. “Animal Experimentation and Testing: A pro/Con Issue.” New Jersey: Enslow Publishing Inc., 1999.
This exhaustive book discusses the both sides of the debate involving animal use in experimentation and in testing. The alternatives to animal testing and the issues concerning animal testing for both cosmetic and medical research are also given