• Question: Do you think animal testing is right ?

    Asked by Gabby ? to Charlotte, Hannah, Majid, Richard, Sam on 16 Mar 2016.
    • Photo: Sam Smith

      Sam Smith answered on 16 Mar 2016:

      Hi Gabby

      Excellent question and one that is going to be debated on and on. So here’s my perspective.

      Animal testing for cosmetics is a big no no in my book. Animals shouldn’t be subjected to testing so we can look better. But for medicines, I think that it is sometimes preferable for us to test new drugs on animals before they are consumed by humans. Some new medicines can have devastating effects on us, and cause great harm. So my personal opinion is for that to be tested on animals first, to limit the chances of humans being harmed. This should only be done when absolutely necessary, and when appropriate safety and wellbeing concerns are addressed.

      As I’m writing this, I feel selfish. But ultimately, a huge number of medicines that people take every day are possible because of animal testing. Without the sacrifice of these animals, humans would have to take huge risks and not many of us are willing to do that. You may recently have heard of a story on Germany (I think) where humans took a new drug for the first time in a trial – it went wrong and several people died. My opinion is it’s better to limit these occurrences through animal testing.

      My own relatives, friends and loved ones have benefits from animal testing. Whether that makes it right for me to support that or not though is a question you (and we!) have to decide. What do you think?

    • Photo: Hannah Moir

      Hannah Moir answered on 16 Mar 2016:

      This will always be a source of debate particularly because of our morals, humanitarian beliefs and judgements. Our caring nature makes us feel and care about the things around us. But animal testing forms a massive part of research to enable us to discover new medical treatments, to test drugs to make sure they work before they ar given to humans. I think only when it is essential to advance knowledge and understanding should they be used. Most of my research directly uses humans though. But some things it wouldn’t work testing humans. For example if I want to look at a live heart disection I wouldn’t be able to do that on a human.

    • Photo: Majid Ahmed

      Majid Ahmed answered on 18 Mar 2016:

      First of all, I use animals in my research (mostly mice) so maybe my view is a little biased, but I will try give a fair point of view. When I was your age, I never imagined I would work with animals, let alone use them to do research. When I had to learn to use animals, I was a nervous wreck (I’m not the most comfortable with animals), but I slowly gained the ability to look after them well and handle them with care and comfort.

      I can understand why some people think it is not nice to use animals in research, and to some extent I agree. I think we have to be very cautious about how we use animals in research and only use animals when there is an acceptable reason to use them, and when there is no other way to do the research. The animals should be treated nicely, looked after very well and be treated with dignity and respect. In general, this is always the case. I had to attend a course to get a license from the Home Office to be able to use animals in my research. One of the conditions of my license is that if I breach the rules or do not look out for the welfare of my animals properly, I could go to prison for up to 5 years. So I hope you can see that we take our responsibility very seriously when it comes to using animals in our research and looking after them.

      Overall, I feel that it is acceptable to use animals in research where there is a need and clear justification for why the research is important and there is no other way of getting the research done without using animals. If we did not use animals in research, we would not have made many of the discoveries we have previously. You should know that many of the common drugs that we use nowadays, some of which do marvellous things for people who are ill, would not have been possible without the use of animals in research. These drugs have saved lives and will continue to do so until they are no longer used. I would like to think that any scientist using animals in research does so with the overall aim of sacrificing that animal for the greater good of mankind.

      On the other hand, I do not agree with using animals for things like testing cosmetics or keeping animals in captivity for entertainment purposes.