Defenders of vivisection point to animal experiments as the prime reason people enjoy longer, healthier lives. Without the use of animals, they argue, there would be no polio vaccine, insulin, coronary bypass surgery, cancer chemotherapy, or other medical breakthroughs.
Because animal experimentation is so pervasive, it would be misleading to deny that the use of animals has never contributed to some aspect of scientific discovery. But their use does not necessarily signify that it was necessary for the scientific advancements, or that their use expedited those advances. Rather than dwell on the involvement of animal models in the past, we should focus our efforts on using the most relevant methodologies and modern technology we have to answer the scientific questions of today, and those are methodologies that do not rely on the inherently-flawed animal model.
And the truth is that many of the advancements that have given us the high standard of medical care we enjoy today have come from scientific methodologies that do not rely on the use of animals. Significant medical progress can be attributed to scientific methodologies such as:
- Clinical observations
- In vitro research using human cells and tissues
- Computer and mathematical modeling
- Molecular biology
- Post-marketing drug surveillance.
These methodologies have enabled us to make important scientific discoveries which include:
- The development of X-rays
- The interpretation of the genetic code
- The isolation of the human immunodeficiency (HIV) virus and the mechanism of AIDS transmission
- Discovery of drugs such as digitalis, nitrite, quinine and penicillin
- Discovery of anesthetics such as chloroform, ether, and nitrous oxide gas
- Development of surgical procedures for cardiac aneurysms, appendicitis, and bladder and gall stones
- Determination of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease
- Discovery of the multi-step nature of cancer progression.
Common Sense: Framing the Scientific Argument
An Ethical Argument Against Vivisection