Recently in 9: Animal Research (Nov 3) Category

Cure or Crime

This past week's presentation on animal ethics made me think about where I stand on the issue. One of the major arguments for testing on animals is that many pharmaceutical and medical discoveries have been made that have saved many lives. Animal testing has allowed for the production of synthetic insulin to be used for patients suffering with diabetes. It has allowed for the production of many antibiotics such as penicillin and vaccines to prevent disease. Even today, animal testing is being used to find a potential cure for cancer, a vaccine for AIDS, a treatment for Parkinson's and a therapy for Alzheimer's. Not only has the effects of animal testing been beneficial to humans but also to animals. Veterinarians have been able to develop treatments for feline Leukemia and Canine distemper through animal testing. The medical and pharmaceutical companies absolutely depend on animal testing to make these advances.
002_vioxx.jpg However, are these medical advances just flukes? Merely accidents that happened to work out for the better? In 1999, the FDA approved the use and sale of a drug called Vioxx by the major pharmaceutical giant Merck. Vioxx, an NSAID, is an anti-inflammatory drug that works by removing substances that cause inflammation, pain and fever in the body. It was predominantly used as a treatment for arthritis. In 2004, the drug was taken off the market after it was found that it could double the risk for heart attack and stroke in humans. Vioxx proved safe in all the animal tests prior to its approval by the FDA. For example, in 2002 a test on mice found that Vioxx actually reduced atherosclerosis, build up of fatty substances in arteries, in the animals. These tests led researchers to believe that Vioxx could be used as a safe effective drug, which even prevented heart problems, in humans. Tens of thousands of people suffered related heart attacks and strokes due to Vioxx. Other drugs that have been shown safe in animal tests but have proved dangerous in humans are Fenfluramine, a weight loss drug that thickens heart valves, Baycol, used to lower cholesterol but caused severe muscle toxicity, and Seldane, an allergy medication that was shown to have severe drug interactions. Many of these severe effects were observed in the initial clinical research on humans. However, the companies used the fact that no adverse effects were observed in animal trials to continue marketing these drugs as safe.

It is simple biology; physiological differences between animals and humans make animal testing a poor model for how drugs will interact and what adverse affects might occur in humans. How many more "safe" drugs discovered through animal testing will be marketed only to find out years later that they cause dangerous side effects in humans? How are we to determine whether a medical discovery found through animal testing will be the next insulin or the next Vioxx?

animal research thoughts

I've always had an awkward and uncomfortable feeling when it comes to animal research. I understand what benefits have come from testing animals, but I also can't understand some of the circumstances that are justified when it comes to testing animals for human preservation (some of the footage seen in the PETA film).
I think an important argument to have while talking about animal research is, what alternatives could be offered? Why aren't we testing on aborted fetuses or using stem cell research? I brought this up at the end of class because I think it's a fair question and I think the fact that we are not testing on what's known as "human life," brings up undeniable species-ism.
It's interesting that politicians and individuals are against testing on aborted fetuses or using stem cell research but turn a blind eye to animals that are suffering for human progression/need. I question whether or not it's acceptable to say that sacrificing one animal for human life is okay and would be okay with the animal if asked because we're not asking.
I respect and acknowledge that there are guidelines that labs have to follow if they want to use animal research - but I wonder if sometimes these guidelines are bent? I mean, I don't work in a lab, and I'm not familiar much regarding science labs, but I think it's hard to say that every lab that practices animal research - follows the strict guidelines. I'm sure we'd all like to think so, though. And also, I do appreciate that the presenting group brought up the idea that a lot of scientists care for the animals, it brought a humanistic light to the discussion. But I also think another problem with lab guidelines is that another human is calling the shots on how animals are treated in the labs, which is yet another form of species ism because humans are deciding when and how many animals are okay to test on.


What are your thoughts and feelings about stem cells? Why do you believe it's easier for people to justify testing on animals but not using stem cell research or other resources from humans?

Is animal testing a form of animal cruelty?

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After watching/listening to the animal research group I was most interested in the idea of animal cruelty. I think that testing on animals has some good to it to some degree, but when we start thinking of humans as superior to animals we are being selfish. When testing animals we need to make sure that we as the experimenters are taking absolute great care of these animals that is, treating them with respect because in a sense people think they cannot use words to tell us that they do not want to be tested, although I believe they can use gestures and vocal sounds to alert us. When I hear of a company using animals for testing I think it's fine, but when they abuse the animals that is when I get very angry. The animals are essentially doing us a favor, they didn't volunteer to be tested so we as humans need to show them the respect they deserve, and that includes having them stay in a warm and comfortable environment. They need to be fed properly on a daily basis and be taken outside to get air and to play with the other animals; we need to love them like we would love a domestic animal, like a dog or a cat for instance.
Also, after listening to the animal research group I wanted to do some research to help understand and further my curiosity; so I went on you tube. I found this clip and it just got me so angry. The woman in this clip I feel is backing up the Covance animal testing research center, but from what I could see in the video they were being cruel to the animals and I just hate that she doesn't see the problem with what they are doing. All she thinks as I can see is that the company is doing humans some good by discovering how to treat humans with certain diseases. She doesn't mention that it will help the animals as well, which really annoyed me. From what I can see the monkeys were being tortured. This is a clip from fox 9 news. Here is the clip : news cast on animal testing.htm

So my question to the class is this, what do you think of this video? What kind of reactions does it present to you? And if you are okay with testing animals, how far do you think us as humans should go when testing for or curing diseases or even testing for cosmetics? What counts as cruelty and what doesn't?

Do Animals Live or Die? You Decide

cute-animals.jpgAnimal testing has long been a topic of controversy, especially when thinking of animals such as in the picture of above. The argument ever continues on whether the benefits of animal testing outweigh all the negative effects it has on animals, particularly death. This news video outlines what some of the pros and cons are of the animal ethics debate Video Link. This video highlights some of the key issues that play into debates about animal testing. The first part emphasizes all the good that has been done based on animal testing. It talks about vaccines, tests, and antibiotics that have all been possible thanks only to being able to test on animals. Also, at the beginning of this clip it seems that the facilities that the animals are being kept in are more than adequate and that they are not being abused. Still, we can't help but wonder if that is what the conditions are like all the time or if that was just a show. I also noticed that all the positive effects of animal testing focused only on human benefits and not on any animal species benefits, though we know from other sources that there have been some. Still, the way this was presented it looks as though only humans benefit from testing on animals which would mean that we are putting ourselves above the animals we test on because they are expendable and we are not. This is a wrong mentality, and if this is the case the regulations of animal testing need to be changed, because who can say that this animal is expendable? cute-animals4.jpgHowever, the next part of this argument is that animal testing is inevitably tied to animal cruelty. The woman talks about how the lab that she worked in mistreated its animals to the point that it would give her nightmares for years to come, such as in this picture animal-testing.jpgThis obviously is unacceptable as well. We cannot mistreat animals for testing just because they cannot object. This is a misplaced sense of power that we inevitably inherit as humans. Thus, this shows that our mindset needs to be changed in order to protect the things that may ultimately save us.

Therefore, although animal testing is necessary animal cruelty is not. Animals may ultimately save us do to the advances they have allowed us to make. We should therefore be thankful for these animals and not abuse them. They have given to us and we need to give back to them. Yes it is inevitable that testing will continue, but it is possible to move forward without causing harm. We need to make sure that all tests are necessary as well as make sure that animals are kept in comfortable high standards of living, even if they are being tested on. No being, animal, human, plant, or other organism deserves to be taken advantage of and treated cruelly just because it does not have the ability to argue or give consent.

Speak Easy

After this week's presentations i was most interested in the animal testing debate. The one thing that really interested me was this idea that animals cannot give consent in order to be tested on. Or the fact that animals cannot tell you that they do not want these things to happen to them. I have a really hard time believing that. Just because the animals do not speak the language that we do does not mean that they do not tell you when things are amiss. i ride and train horses and i can tell you that when something is wrong my animals can tell me what I am doing wrong. It reminded me of when i was younger and there was the Disney channel movie 'Ready to Run.' It was about a young girl who wakes up one day and realizes she has the ability to talk to horses, like actually speak to them in English. Besides the fact that it was a little upsetting that the girl that could talk to animals was a Latin American girl and her mother explained that her 'people' were more connected to the earth and to animals than the white man. And if that's true why did the horse speak English and not Spanish? We could tone down the minority objectivity just a bit. Anyway the fact was I was upset because i didn't need my horse to speak my language in order for me to know what she was saying. i had a car accident a while ago and had to go to the chiropractor a lot to fix some lingering effects. Before i would go to the chiropractor i would ride my horse and when i dismounted she would point to different parts of my body that were out of place. She could tell me exactly the same thing the chiropractor could. I just had to listen. It's not that animals cannot tell you that they don't want things done to them or they can't tell you something is wrong. I am okay with animal testing on somethings I believe. If the testing saves lives of humans and other animals that is fine. However, cosmetic testing is just completely ridiculous because nobody really needs a new kind of eyeliner THAT bad. That makes me wonder if humans are really that selfish? Do we really not know if animals are consenting to these procedures or are we choosing not to listen?

*Important Feedback Re: First Week of Presentations*

After completing our first week of ethics presentations, I want to make sure our class keeps a few things in mind, in order to move forward more productively:

All of the topics selected are contentious, and this is precisely the point: from day one of this course, we've discussed how science is an ever-evolving dialogue, an imperfect process in a quest for greater understandings of our shared world.

These presentations discuss a wide range of topics from many perspectives. While some of you have chosen to present "pros," "cons," and "neutrals" of a subject, we have to remember that the benefits and drawbacks of a particular topic should not be conflated with whether you're "for" or "against" it. When we make simplistic conclusions about an issue, we not only create unnecessary polarization, but we also foreclose the possibility for other insights to be revealed. The truth is, there are positives and negatives to most things in life, but ethical concerns are raised in science when we weigh questions of power:
...Who has the ability to control a scientific process and why? Who will benefit and who won't?
...What, exactly, makes this topic so contentious to some? What fears, anxieties, traditions, ideologies, does it uphold or threaten?
...What kinds of relationships should we demand between science and academies, industries, and governments?
...And though it will always be imperfect, impartial, and finite, how can we create BETTER ways of practicing science, science that promotes more livable ways of relating across the spectrum of races, genders, species, etc. for generations to come?

Finally, a note of caution on creating a classroom climate conducive to healthy debate, for there have been moments when productive questions have been shut down. Once we understand that:
...no topic presented is "bad" or "good,"
...that the point of these exercises is NOT to reach a final conclusion or resolve the debate,
...and that multiple considerations, in multiple contexts, must be weighed in order to grasp these complex issues,
we can move forward as a class asking more questions, becoming more aware and critical knowers, consumers, voters, and researchers, and creating a space where varying viewpoints can be aired. Remember, if critiques are raised, they can be harnessed to develop better ways of employing whatever scientific development we're considering, making it more effective, more sustainable, and more liberatory.

These presentations are meant to inform our class on important topics that may be brand new to some. But more importantly, they are meant to showcase ethical dilemmas. Keep this in mind, whether you present in the upcoming classes or listen as an active audience member. What larger concerns do these topics raise, especially within a context of feminist science?

Animal Activists

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After seeing the presentation for "Animal Research" on Wednesday, I feel they made a very strong argument more on the lines of animal right's more than anything else. With all of the pro-PETA stands and the horrid video that we watched (I say horrid in a sense that the footage was horrifying, and not that the video itself sucked) it's hard to argue against PETA's stance. For some odd reason the only thing I found myself thinking about after that was how animal activists throw red paint on fur coats, and how they have made that their signature move. Some famous instances where this has happened suddenly popped into my head. The one instance that is forever seared into my brain came from the Simpsons. Who could forget when Lisa Simpson did the deed to Krusty the Clown and his ever so elegant looking fur coat? Of course, I was unable to find any pictures or video of the event, but trust me, it happened! Can you think of any other famous instances (real or made up) where animal activists strike? Do you think you feel so deeply about something where you would "go the distance" in making your thoughts public? These are just a couple questions I pose with my post, and I encourage you to bring up more questions and/or reply to mine with your thoughts.

FDA to approve GM Salmon?

For those of you interested in food safety, genetically modified and transgenic organisms, ecological health or salmon politics, read the transcript or listen to today's MPR Mid Morning podcast with Kerri Miller.

Salmon.jpg

"A scientifically improved salmon stokes debate
Broadcast: Midmorning, 09/17/2010, 9:06 a.m.

The Food and Drug Administration holds hearings next week which could lead to approval of the first genetically modified animal for human consumption. A Massachusetts company wants federal approval to market a genetically engineered salmon but is the verdict still out on whether such foods are safe to eat?"

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the 9: Animal Research (Nov 3) category.

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