An Animal Rights Argument for Biomedical Research

Anyone even slightly familiar with the history of modern human medical science knows the importance of animal research. Without it, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates we’d be living 23.5 years less than we do. But among animal rights advocates, few issues divide the cohort quite like biomedical research on animal life. Many oppose the medical method on grounds that it’s inherently morally corrupt and therefore an unethical means to draw scientific conclusions. Others make it a point to believe that a line must eventually be drawn when it comes to animal rights, and the ability for animal life to help promote the health of humans is it. The following will attempt to compromise both perspectives: animal science is not only good for human health, but for the long-term well being of animal life as well.

Put in perspective

Of all animal species that have ever lived on this Earth, 99.9% are now extinct. Therefore organisms that exist today represent a a mere one-tenth of a percent of the total amount of life ever known. This in and of itself is certainly no justification for animal cruelty or the acceptance of neglecting the rights of animals over humans. But not only does this fascinating figure reveal the realities of life and death in the animal kingdom, it highlights the fact that human intelligence is an incredibly rare entity. We are but a fraction of the total sum of genetic material on Earth, and therefore just a speck of temporary animated dust hovering above an arid desert.

Weighing potential

For hundreds of millions of years, animals walked the Earth unaware of themselves and the scope of existence. Therefore for millions of years, the majority of life came and went without any cognitive ability to do anything about extinction, cruelty, and suffering. Then humans came along. Suddenly, an animal existed that could not only better its chances of survival through critical thinking and invention, but shape the environment around it as well. Humans are obviously the one and only animal to ever be smart enough to understand science and abstract concepts.

Ultimate goal

Among these abstract concepts are things such as empathy and compassion, which are the core drivers of most animal rights movements. If there is ever going to be animal that is going to achieve the ability to eliminate pain and suffering on a species-transcending scale, it’ll be humans. We are the one and only organism with the potential to vastly change our environment – animal welfare included. One day we will eliminate the need for animal research altogether. But in order for that to happen, we have to make sure that human minds are as healthy and productive as possible. If studying animal life is the only way to achieve that in our present time, then it’s necessary.

It takes time, but we’re getting there

Animal rights advocates ought to understand that the animal research of today that exists to improve the quality of human life tomorrow is essential in eventually solving the problems of animal cruelty. Not only that, but laws and scientific community-established ethics have significantly reduced the level of actual animal cruelty that exists in biomedical research. Industry leaders such as Huntingdon Life Sciences (PDF ethics paper) adhere to the laws put in place by every government they operate under, as well as follow no-nonsense in-house guidelines for avoiding animal cruelty at all costs.

Animal cruelty must be eradicated, but biomedical research is necessary in doing this. Humans are the only organisms with the ability to achieve that goal, so our health matters more for now. We are unfortunately the cause of most animal suffering.  But we’re also the only possible solution when it comes to stopping the practice once and for all.

This article has been reproduced from the SciScoop Science Forum which is open to guest contributors on scientific topics. Copyright David Bradley.

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About David Bradley Science Writer

David Bradley has worked in science communication for more than twenty years. After reading chemistry at university, he worked and travelled in the USA, did a stint in a QA/QC lab and then took on a role as a technical editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry. Then, following an extended trip to Australia, he returned and began contributing as a freelance to the likes of New Scientist and various trade magazines. He has been growing his portfolio and and has constructed the Sciencebase Science News and the Sciencetext technology website. He also runs the SciScoop Science Forum which is open to guest contributors on scientific topics.
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