The Instigator
MajorMite
Pro (for)
Winning
30 Points
The Contender
Revolution
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Animal experimentation in the context of medical science

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/27/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,706 times Debate No: 8442
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (5)

 

MajorMite

Pro

The main arguments of those opposed to animal testing (especially in regards to medical science) are:

1) Humans and animals are too different for results from animal tests to be extrapolated to humans.

2) Animal testing is morally bankrupt. It is not justifiable under any circumstances.

3) There is inadequate government regulation of animal testing.

4) Animals are exposed to unnecessary suffering.

5) There are alternatives to animal testing.[/spoiler]

Arguments for:

I, on the other hand, happen to support animal testing (in medical science) for these reasons:

1) "Humans and animals are too different for results from animal tests to be extrapolated to humans."

While it is true that every species is unique, all mammals share commonalities (mammals are the most highly represented group of animals in medical science). This is because all mammals are descended from a group of common ancestors. In general, all mammalian bodies operate in the same basic way (eg. circulatory, vascular, digestive, endocrine and immune systems are all quite similar in mammals). Obviously, however, there are differences between species, but these tend to be at the level of the cell, rather than at the level of the various sytems. This is important because it is reasonable to then say, "Well, drug x poisons this animal. Therefore, it is unlikely to be safe in humans, however further tests should be done to prove this." Several examples of discoveries which were directly reliant on animal testing include genetic therapy for cystic fibrosis, immunosuppresant drugs for organ transplants, and electronic implants for deafness and immobility.

2) "Animal testing is morally bankrupt. It is not justifiable under any circumstances."

True. Ethically, animal testing is largerly indefensible, except on the grounds of providing life-saving medical advances to human patients, which, to me, seems like a fairly good argument 'for'.

3) "There is inadequate government regulation of animal testing."

While some activists claim that there is no regulation and that researchers are able to do as they please, this is simply not true. The Home Office in the UK, for example, administers extremely stringent laws regarding the use of animals in research. Other countries have similar guidlines.

4) "Animals are exposed to unnecessary suffering."

Activists tend to quote slogans such as "STOP ANIMAL SUFFERING" "COMPANY X BRUTALLY TORTURES ANIMALS", while showing a picture of a badly treated kitty from 50 years ago. Obviously, there are areas of research which require the animal to experience some degree of pain, but this is minimised as much as possible. In most cases, animals are anaesthetised when undergoing painful procedures, and receive post-operative anaelgesia.

Others will say that anaesthetics are not used because they are "expensive." Just as a point of interest, anaesthetics are actually rather cheap.

Again, the Home Office (and other agencies in other countries) strictly controls the conditions animals are housed in, as well as conditions relating to scientific procedures. These conditions do need to be improved in certain less developed countries.

5) "There are alternatives to animal testing."

There are alternatives to animal testing, and a lot of money has been invested in the area. However, it is ludicrous for activists to claim that all animal testing should stop because we have alternatives. Certain things can only be tested in a live model. Activists claim that we have computer models, cell cultures, and tissue cultures in which to do any and all testing. Research is done using these methods, in fact, most medical research does not involve animals at all. But, for example, measuring an immune response, or levels of inflammation following administration of a particular drug or procedure are only possible in a live model. It seems silly to point it out, but animals are not a beaker of cells, or a petri dish of tissue. Animals are a complex interaction of many systems composed of many different types of cells. it is impossible for any environment in a test tube or dish to mimick a living body. Indeed, even computers are not able to virtually duplicate a living body.

To summarise, animal testing is not perfect, however it is necessary and, at the moment, is the best alternative we have to testing on humans.
Revolution

Con

I shall disprove my opponents points on a single contention: Animal testing brings us down to the level of the animal, and there is a less morbid alternative.
Studies show that animal testing results are mostly useless to humans, meaning that my opponent's Cancer patient could die from the medicine. See the following link: http://www.buzzle.com...
On the other hand, the death toll from human testing is relatively low; this would be the alternative to animal testing. see link: http://www.time.com...
Thus, animal testing is immoral, and there is a clear alternative.
Debate Round No. 1
MajorMite

Pro

I thank my opponent for posting his arguments, and I apologise for taking such a long time to reply.

My opponent is mistaken on 5 points:

1) "Animal testing brings us down to the level of the animal, and there is a less morbid alternative."

My opponent's argument at this point bears small relevance to the real world. Animal testing does not bring one down to the level of the animal, as animals do not conduct experiments of the sort we are discussing. On the other hand, if you are proposing that testing on animals brings us down to a lower intellectual or ethical level, then one of my opponent's main points is flawed. By arguing thus, my opponent is effectively saying that animals are, in fact, 'beneath' us. Researchers only use animals because they are seen to be worth less than human lives.

2) "Studies show that animal testing results are mostly useless to humans, meaning that my opponent's Cancer patient could die from the medicine."

It is important for my opponent to realise that animal testing is not supposed to be 100% accurate. Nor is it supposed to be used as the sole means of testing new treatments. Tests are conducted on animals because they are the closest models to humans. Animals are used in the initial screening of a drug in an effort to spot likely side-effects. in my original argument, I pointed out that all mammals share significant similarities. Activists often point out that 80% of drugs tested in animals never make it to human trials. They see this as a failure, when, in fact, it shows that 80% of potentially lethal new medications are not administered to human patients.

Once initial safety screening is done, human trials begin. Regarding my cancer patient- my opponent rightly asserts that he could die from the medication. However, the point of animal testing is to weed out the medicines which are likely to cause him harm. As I have said, no screening procedure is perfect, but animal testing is the most accurate model we currently have, without using humans.

3) "the death toll from human testing is relatively low"

Human testing is never carried out without prior animal tests. At least, this is true for drugs. Surgeries may be trialled in humans without first being tested in animals, but these tend to be the procedures which do not involve radical changes to the currently used procedure/s.

I would suggest that one of the reasons human tests result in a low death toll is because of initial animal tests.

4) The second link provided by my opponent bears small relevance to this debate, as it mainly talks about human error in conducting clinical trials. It does not provide any arguments for a feasible alternative to animal testing.

5) "Thus, animal testing is immoral, and there is a clear alternative"

I would suggest that my opponent's argument does not support his assertion that animal testing is immoral to a sufficient degree, as no clear argument has been made supporting this claim. Furthermore, my opponent is mistaken if he believes that there are alternatives to animal testing that would not involve wide-spread harm to human patients.
Revolution

Con

As shown by previous links, more humans die from faulty results than from human testing. In addition, one of those links clearly states that only 5-25% of animal tests are useful to humans. My opponent did not cite when stating that human trials mostly succeeded animal tests chronologically, thus voiding this information. As stated in my 2 arguments, my single contention undermines all those posed by my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2
MajorMite

Pro

While my opponent cites the statistic that only 5-25% of animal tests are useful in humans, this avoids the main point of my argument. If there were no such thing as animal testing, that 5-25% would obviously imporove, as all tests would be conducted in humans and would therefore be relevant in humans. However, this also means that the dangerous treatments, which were before caught by animal tests would now be caught by seeing the adverse effects in humans. My opponent previously stated that the death toll from human testing is low. I proposed that this was because animal testing caught many of the 'bad' medicines. With animal testing gone, the death toll in human tests would inevitably rise, because, as I stated many times previously, all the dangerous medicines would be administered to humans, rather than being pulled before this could happen. This is indisputable.

Furthermore, it is not necessary to cite when staing that animal tests proceed human trials as this is common knowledge, or, at least, it should be common knowledge to those reasonably familiar with the area. It would be akin to citing a piece of literature detailing that the heart pumps blood around the body. I would also like to point out that the link provided by my opponent (http://www.buzzle.com...) does indeed link to a page stating the 5-25% statistic. However, as Buzzle is not a peer reviewed journal the information it presents is useless. Nor does Buzzle reference their source for this statistic. The article also states states "Most of the drugs passed by animal tests are now discarded as useless to humans – then why test in the first place?" This reveals a profound misunderstanding by the author of the article. Animal testing is not meant to determine if drugs will work in humans. It is designed to reveal which drugs have a chance of working. This allows us to narrow down the number of drugs to be tested in humans, as it also helps to weed out the dangerous ones. Furthermore, while this may be a mere grammatical error, the quote from the article also seems to suggest that we should only test drugs we know will work, which is a bit odd, considering that there would be no reason to test the drugs in the first place if we knew that they worked.

To summarise my argument for this round: While it is true that many animal tests are not applicable to humans, they are the best model we have at the moment. Without animal testing, the human death toll and number of adverse events would rise, as we would lack this initial screening procedure.
Revolution

Con

Animal testing does not pull dangerous medicines. as stated by my source, as it would only find 5-25% of them. Thus, this claim is not only disputable, but groundless. As for your mentioning of "common knowledge", a citation is required. If it's common knowledge, there must be a page that says so. Here's a page that says the heart pumps blood around the body! http://wiki.answers.com...

True enough that buzzle.com is an unreliable source. However, it is a source nonetheless, and I ask you to find an opposing one.
As for your last comment, please stop being assertive about your knowledge and cite your sources.

Your final comment has been refuted. To begin with, MOST animal tests are not applicable to humans. In addition, please cite your sources (as stated earlier in this argument)
Debate Round No. 3
MajorMite

Pro

I would prefer not to continue debating what is and what is not common knowledge as it is completely irrelevant to the current debate. However, I will say that my opponent may have missed the point I was making. If something is common knowledge it is not necessary to reference it. This is common practice. Furthermore, one would expect that those involved in, or at least debating this area, would have a general knowledge of the way medical tests are conducted. If animal tests were not conducted before human tests, my opponent's argument is invalid, as animal trials would be largely pointless if human trials were conducted before or at the same time as animal trials. I will not say more on this matter as it is not relevant to our current discussion.

My opponent asserts that animal testing does not pull dangerous medicines. This is incorrect, as not every drug developed is released into human clinical trials, and animal testing always occurs before human trials. 5-25% does not sound like 0% to me. Sadly, it's not really easy to get stats on this, as the drugs are quickly forgotten and abandoned if they don't work in animals. If you have a look at the UK Home Office statistics (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk...), you will notice that, in 2007, there were 193258 procedures performed in mice. This includes drug testing, toxicology and method development etc. If you consider the 48550 tests conducted into drug safety, and calculate, say 20% of that, that is 9710 effective tests into whether or not a drug is safe to use in humans. If you use the total number of procedures for this calculation, you get 38651 relevant procedures. I have stated previously that animal testing is not perfect, but there are a huge number of relevant animal tests performed every year, which, unless you consider that 100% of new drugs are safe to use, spare human subjects from adverse effects.

For your interest:

"Today's announcement regarding the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine underscores the importance of laboratory animals in health research. Americans for Medical Progress congratulates Mario R. Capecchi, Martin J. Evans, and Oliver Smithies as they are honored by the Karolinska Institute for their animal-based research that pioneered gene targeting, technology now being used to develop treatments and cures for countless serious ailments."

"Ms. Calnan noted that the three scientists who share this year's Nobel Prize created the toolkit by which scientists are able to use mice to study heart disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, hypertension and many other diseases. Already, several treatments have been developed and many more medicines are in the pipeline."

"Gene targeting has pervaded all fields of biomedicine. Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come."

Quotes are from http://www.amprogress.org...

Not all animal tests are for the purposes of drug development.

Furthermore, I would challenge my opponent to defend his position in regards to some of his previous statements, which have been refuted by myself. I.e.

- "Thus ... there is a clear alternative."

Which alternative would not expose humans to additional dangers from previously untested drugs/procedures?

- "...the death toll from human testing is relatively low."

- "Animal testing brings us down to the level of the animal..."

I would suggest that my opponent occupy himself in defending his position and refuting my arguments, rather than debating irrelevant points. It is a bit strange that my opponent asserts he is able to refute all my arguments with the single quote "animal tests are not effective for studying human conditions/drugs" when I have proved that they are (using my opponent's own statistics), and when I have stated time and again that animal tests are not perfect, but that they are the best alternative to human testing we have at the moment.
Revolution

Con

1.You may not use information as granted unless sourced, no exceptions. Please cite.
2.You are once again using this unsourced information. Animal testing would miss at least 75% of dangerous medicines, and would pull at least 75% of safe medicines, and "The drugs are quickly forgotten and abandoned if they don't work in animals." Thus, the death toll would only slightly increase (if at all: animal tests do not precede clinical trials) with the abandonment of animal testing, and the overall death toll would even out or decrease, as less humans would die from faulty treatments (remember: 75% of bad medicines go through) and missing treatments (75% of good ones are pulled). No matter how many relevant tests are performed, they still are only 5-25% of the big picture, and animal tests do not necessarily precede human tests.
3.This presents nothing and is unsourced, thus voiding it.
4.the clear alternative is clinical tests, and as animal tests do not precede human trials, the death toll would decrease (see earlier cited statistics).
5. This is cited. Animal tests do not precede human tests, unless cited otherwise.
6.This quote does relate to the topic. You "refuted" it by saying that humans were at a higher level, which only serves to support my point.
7.You have not shown that animal tests are effective.
8."Not perfect" does not fit a failure rate that is greater than 75%. You state animal testing as the only alternative to human testing. What about human testing itself? Man should take care of his own treatment.
Debate Round No. 4
MajorMite

Pro

I have nothing new to add to this debate. I feel that I have made all my points and backed them up sufficiently.

I thank my opponent for debating me, and I appreciate the effort he made.
Revolution

Con

A final recap of my contention:
As sourced, animal tests are only relevant to humans 5-25% of the time, and the death toll from human tests is relatively low. Thus, the death toll would decrease, and man would be dependent of himself.

I would like to thank my opponent for a challenging and enjoyable performance. I hope to see more of you on debate.org.
Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Revolution 8 years ago
Revolution
"Pro had the burden of proof, but failed to present a single expert opinion or statistic showing that testing was effective. Pro's only data was to the number of uses, not effective uses. Fortunately for Pro, Con conceded an effectiveness rate adequate to prove Pro's case. Con also failed to produce data; a blog post is an unsupported assertion. I don't doubt that animal testing is in fact effective, but in a debate the evidence ought to be presented, not just claimed.'

I said that animal testing is irrelevant more than 75% of the time. That hardly proves PRO's case.
Posted by Revolution 8 years ago
Revolution
Still, a vote-bomber wouldn't comment. Plus, what's the chance all four votes washed the board in your favor?
Posted by MajorMite 8 years ago
MajorMite
I hardly think a couple of spelling mistakes is that big a deal. Anyway, I'm not sure if you're being vote-bombed, but I would say not. Judging by the comments here, I don't think that the people who would vote on this debate would be the kind of people to vote-bomb.
Posted by Revolution 8 years ago
Revolution
To MajorMite: Do you think I'm being vote-bombed? Even you would give me the grammar vote, as you misspelled improve ("imporove"?). Thus, the score should be PRO: 20, and CON: 4. I have another debate soon to be in the voting period, and will check back with you if I see an erratic score on it.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro had the burden of proof, but failed to present a single expert opinion or statistic showing that testing was effective. Pro's only data was to the number of uses, not effective uses. Fortunately for Pro, Con conceded an effectiveness rate adequate to prove Pro's case. Con also failed to produce data; a blog post is an unsupported assertion. I don't doubt that animal testing is in fact effective, but in a debate the evidence ought to be presented, not just claimed.
Posted by MajorMite 8 years ago
MajorMite
Alternatives to animal testing sounds like it would make a good 3 round debate by itself!
Posted by Revolution 8 years ago
Revolution
Tests are conducted on volunteers, naturally.
Posted by HisCross 8 years ago
HisCross
8."Not perfect" does not fit a failure rate that is greater than 75%. You state animal testing as the only alternative to human testing. What about human testing itself? Man should take care of his own treatment.

Who decides which humans are used for tests? Unwanted embryos? Prisoners? Clones? War criminals? Certain people thought Blacks could be used for experiments about
syphilis and the result was the Tuskegee project. What about the human testing done in Nazi Germany? To my knowledge little useful data was gathered by the Nazis.
Posted by Revolution 8 years ago
Revolution
I've got this one. Please Comment if you have arguments for my use.
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
I am going on vacation in 6 days, I can't do this one. Maybe next time.
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Vote Placed by ethopia619 6 years ago
ethopia619
MajorMiteRevolutionTied
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MajorMiteRevolutionTied
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Maikuru
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rougeagent21
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