The Instigator
a.v
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
TrasguTravieso
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

Animal Experimentation hurts more than it helps

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
TrasguTravieso
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,466 times Debate No: 30095
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (14)
Votes (5)

 

a.v

Pro

Animal experimenters want us to believe that if they gave up their archaic habit, sick children and other disease and accident victims would drop dead in droves. But the most significant trend in modern research in recent years has been the recognition that animals rarely serve as good models for the human body.

Studies published in prestigious medical journals have shown time and again that animal experimenters are often wasting lives"both animal and human"and precious resources by trying to infect animals with diseases that they would never normally contract. Fortunately, a wealth of cutting-edge, non-animal research methodologies promises a brighter future for both animal and human health. The following are some statements supporting animal experimentation followed by the arguments against them.

1. "Every major medical advance is attributable to experiments on animals."
This is simply not true. An article published in the esteemed Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has even evaluated this very claim and concluded that it was not supported by any evidence. Most animal experiments are not relevant to human health, they do not contribute meaningfully to medical advances and many are undertaken simply of out 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. Read More

2. "If we didn't use animals, we'd have to test new drugs on people."
The fact is that we already do test new drugs on people. No matter how many animal tests are undertaken, someone will always be the first human to be tested on.Because animal tests are so unreliable, they make those 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. Read More

3. "We have to observe the complex interactions of cells, tissues, and organs in living animals."
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. ,Physiological reactions to drugs vary enormously from species to species. Penicillin kills guinea pigs but is inactive in rabbits; aspirin kills cats and causes birth defects in rats, mice, guinea pigs, dogs, and monkeys; and morphine, a depressant in humans, stimulates goats, cats, and horses. Further, animals in laboratories typically display behavior indicating extreme psychological distress, and experimenters acknowledge that the use of these stressed-out animals jeopardizes the validity of the data produced.

4. "Animals help in the fight against cancer."
Since President Richard Nixon signed the Conquest of Cancer Act in 1971, the "war on cancer" in the United States has become a series of losing battles. Through taxes, donations, and private funding, Americans have spent almost $200 billion on cancer research since 1971. However, more than 500,000 Americans die of cancer every year, a 73 percent increase in the death rate since the "war" began. Read More

5. "Science has a responsibility to use animals to keep looking for cures for all the horrible diseases that people suffer from."
Every year in the United States , animal experimentation gobbles up billions of dollars (including 40 percent of all research funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health), and more than $1 trillion is spent on health care. While funding for animal experimentation and the number of animals tested on continues to increase, the United States still ranks 49th in the world in life expectancy and second worst in infant mortality in the developed world. While rates of heart disease and strokes have shown slight declines recently"because of lifestyle factors such as diet and smoking rather than any medical advances"cancer rates continue to rise, while alcohol- and drug-treatment centers, prenatal care programs, community mental health clinics, and trauma units continue to suffer closures because they lack sufficient funds. Read More

6. "Many experiments are not painful to animals and are therefore justified."
The only U.S. law that governs the use of animals in laboratories"the Animal Welfare Act"allows animals to be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, forcibly restrained, addicted to drugs, and brain-damaged. No experiment, no matter how painful or trivial, is prohibited " and pain-killers are not even required. Even when alternatives to the use of animals are available, the law does not require that they be used"and often they aren"t. Because the Act specifically excludes rats, mice, birds and cold-blooded animals, more than 95 percent of the animals used in laboratories are not subject to the minimal protections provided by federal laws. Because they are not protected by the law, experimenters don't even have to provide mice and rats with pain relief. Read More

7. "We don't want to use animals, but we don't have any other options."
Human clinical and epidemiological studies, human tissue- and cell-based research methods, cadavers, sophisticated high-fidelity human patient simulators and computational models are more reliable, more precise, less expensive, and more humane than animal experiments. Progressive scientists have used human brain cells to develop a model "microbrain," which can be used to study tumors, as well as artificial skin and bone marrow. We can now test irritancy on protein membranes, produce and test vaccines using human tissues, and perform pregnancy tests using blood samples instead of killing rabbits. Animal experiments don"t persist because they are the best science, they persist because of experimenters" personal biases and archaic traditions.

8. "Don't medical students have to dissect animals?"
Nearly 95% of U.S. medical schools"including Yale, Harvard and Stanford"do not use any animals to train medical students and experience with animal dissection or experimentation on live animals is not required or expected of those applying to medical school. Medical students are trained with a combination of didactic methods, sophisticated human patient simulators, interactive computer programs, safe human-based learning methods and clinical experience. Today, one can even become a board-certified surgeon without harming any animals. Some medical professional organizations like the American Board of Anesthesiologists even require physicians to complete simulation training"not animal laboratories"to become board-certified. Read More

9. "Animals are here for humans to use. If we have to sacrifice 1,000 or 100,000 animals in the hope of benefiting one child, it's worth it."
If experimenting on one intellectually-disabled person could benefit 1,000 children, would we do it? Of course not! Ethics dictate that the value of each life in and of itself cannot be superseded by its potential value to anyone else. (http://www.peta.org...)
TrasguTravieso

Con

In order to examine this issue, it is useful to first ask ourselves whether in theory it is acceptable to harm animals in order to help humans and then proceed to examine the reality of the practice.

In Theory: Is Harming Animals to Help Humans Permissible

This seems to be a main point of contention with Pro, who mentions in point 9 of her introduction that "the value of each life in and of itself cannot be superseded by its potential value to anyone else". Which ostensibly means that the life of an animal is of the same value as the life of a human being.

Yet we do establish on an intuitive level a differentiation between different types of life. We are perfectly aware, for instance, that bringing water to boiling point would cause the death of countless micro organisms. In spite of this we are not wont to accuse accuse tea-drinkers of amoebal genocide. A movement would be very short-lived indeed if it advocated abstinence from consuming vegetable life, as broccoli are also living things, and yet we tend to attach more value to vegetable life than unicellular or fungal life, and even invest in fighting plagues of the latter in order to defend the former. Just as vegetable life is orders of magnitude greater in worth than bacterial life, and animal life regarded as orders of magnitude greater than vegetable life, we are not irrational in establishing a separate and greater category for human life.

Why is this, if taxonomically speaking we are in the same family, the Animal kingdom? Because we recognize that those traits we consider valuable in animals (intelligence, awareness of surroundings, feelings) are found in us in greater measure, along with other characteristics which are simple non-existent in other animals. Sentience (self-awareness), will, reason, art, symbolic thinking. These and many other characteristics are exclusive to human beings, and are what make us even capable of speaking and thinking in the language of rights and duties. We are able to construct ethical and moral arguments based on reason and experience and act in accordance to these considerations rather than instinct in order to make those actions "good" or "evil". If a lion kills the offspring of his rival we say he killed the offspring of his rival, not that he committed infanticide; if a baboon forcibly copulates with a female, we say he forcibly copulated with a female, not that he committed rape. This ability to transcend the physical and think morally marks such a separation between human beings and animals as to make comparisons border on the ridiculous.

Does this mean that anything goes?

Not remotely. Precisely because of man´s capacity for moral reasoning, we are obliged to recognize that insofar as an animal possesses those advanced traits we have moral duties towards them. I would even argue that the general beauty of nature is of intrinsic value and binds us to care for it and avoid bringing harm to it. This is often called the duty of stewardship.

If this is the case we are obliged to create an ethical framework to govern the practice of animal testing. Many governments have laws in effect which tend to do precisely this(2), although for argument's sake we could theoretically summarize this framework in three rules:
  1. There must be sufficient benefit derived from the experiment to justify the potential harm to the test subject.
  2. Where possible, animals of lower order should be preferred to animals of higher order (mice before pigs before monkeys). If it is possible to use other arrangements discussed by Pro on point 7 (computer models, cadavers, artificial tissue etc) without sacrificing results, these should also be preferred.
  3. The more advanced the animal in question, the stricter we must be with criteria 1 and 2.

In Practice: What Are The Benefits?

Pro is right in saying not every advance in medicine is due to animal testing. The information given, however, attempts to mislead the reader into believing that the impact of animal testing has been negligible. To cite personal experience, my grandfather, Ysidro Valladares, was an oncologist who spent most of his life in the laboratory investigating cancer through experiments which involved provoking tumors in lab-mice and monitoring their immunological response (2). The results were hardly negligible, as he was able among other things to:
  1. Isolate the first politumoral DNA virus
  2. Discover the phenomenon of transfection
  3. Monitor the first in-vitro virical transformation and establish the transformed cell-line
  4. Describe the process of inverse transcription
  5. Incorporate the viral genome into the cancerous cells
  6. Discover the mutual conversion between DNA and RNA viruses
  7. Describe the transcription of exogenous DNA and the effect on informosome production
  8. Isolation of cancer-specific antibodies associated to cancerous cells

These are hardly irrelevant findings, and many such findings in laboratories around the world using similar methods of investigation have made it the case that many types of cancer have a 90%+ survival rate if caught in time. To suggest, as Pro does, that as many treatments which worked on mice do not translate well to human beings(ignoring the many that did and the insight to the inner workings of cancer cells the failures give us), or that since life expectancy in the US is not the highest in the developed world (ignoring the lifestyle, environmental and other reasons for this fact) animal testing is not relevant or necessary to the fight against cancer is a spurious argument at best. We could make a similar line of argument (with different investigators and discoveries) for other areas of medicine.

Conclusion

While I concede that not every medical advance has come from animal testing, the advances animal testing has given us is enough to merit a consideration of its value. As far as I can fathom it, the key to this debate, to determine the relative harm and help or animal testing, lies in establishing whether there exists, as PRO´s opening statement (For those among our readers whose appetites were whetted by the "Read More" endings, I encourage them to read the full article on the PETA website via the link PRO kindly provides for us) seems to imply, a moral equivalence between human life and animal life. I categorically deny this equivalence, and look forward to defending this position in the course of this debate.



Debate Round No. 1
a.v

Pro

a.v forfeited this round.
TrasguTravieso

Con

Extend arguments
Debate Round No. 2
a.v

Pro

a.v forfeited this round.
TrasguTravieso

Con

Extend arguments
Debate Round No. 3
a.v

Pro

a.v forfeited this round.
TrasguTravieso

Con

No chance for at least one round of actual debate rather than parallel monologues, is there?
Debate Round No. 4
a.v

Pro

a.v forfeited this round.
TrasguTravieso

Con

A bit sad, but I urge a vote for Con, given the circumstances.
Debate Round No. 5
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TrasguTravieso 3 years ago
TrasguTravieso
Reviewing my debates One year later I have made the momentous discovery that Qopel was a monumental jerk.
Posted by TrasguTravieso 4 years ago
TrasguTravieso
Not at all! I accepted the debate in good faith, as I believe you proposed it in good faith. I think there should be no problem as long as we don't consciously look for one.
Posted by a.v 4 years ago
a.v
Sorry, this is my first debate so I wasn't sure how to set it up. Any semantic issues that occur will be my fault and you will win them.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
No, it will be crucial regardless, for the simple fact that how one looks at the resolution, two equally valid conclusions can be reached.
Posted by TrasguTravieso 4 years ago
TrasguTravieso
I'l be na"ve and trust a.v.'s good faith
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
"and avoid semantics"

Good luck with that. Semantics in this debate will be crucial.
Posted by TrasguTravieso 4 years ago
TrasguTravieso
I'm not sure if I qualify as sane, but I do hope debating me proves worthwhile. It seems like an interesting topic and as long as we approach the debate in good faith and avoid semantics this prompt shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
a.v. no one will accept this that is worth debating. You need to define your terms extensively in this debate, because it really DOES matter in this case. If you're talking about the actual number of entities that it will hurt, I'd agree with you. However, I still vehemently support animal testing. Humans are precious. Human conscious lights up the universe.
Posted by a.v 4 years ago
a.v
What do you mean by "scale of help"?
Posted by ProNoob 4 years ago
ProNoob
Until you define this in round one, no sane person will accept.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by qopel 4 years ago
qopel
a.vTrasguTraviesoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I'm not an English major, but I thought Pro had better grammar
Vote Placed by ockcatdaddy 4 years ago
ockcatdaddy
a.vTrasguTraviesoTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: all points to con because pro forfeited 4 rounds
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
a.vTrasguTraviesoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con is cooler than Pro.
Vote Placed by Apeiron 4 years ago
Apeiron
a.vTrasguTraviesoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 4 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
a.vTrasguTraviesoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: F.F.