• Question: Are you against or for animal testing?

    Asked by qwerty123 to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 13 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by kaffwyn, felicia978, seanod56, cspooner, kitana356, roflatop.
    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Hi Kaffwyn and qwerty123.

      There are different types of animal testing, and I don’t think we can treat them all the same way. Eventually though, science is all about forming ideas and testing them out. If an idea is genuinely new, then we can’t test it out in a computer or by thinking hard about it.

      Testing things on animals isn’t always the best way to test them out though. If we want to know if something causes cancer in humans, then we can compare humans who have been exposed to humans who haven’t. We don’t actually learn that much from knowing that it causes cancer in mice or rabbits.

      Some things, like new medicine, you want to be pretty sure it will work and is safe before you even try it out on humans. Using animals can give us an idea (although not always as good an idea as we would like) of this. If I was the very first human trying a new medicine, I would feel safer with the doctor saying “we’ve tested it as much as we can” rather than “well, we think on paper it might work”.

      Overall, I am for animal testing, but I think sometimes we don’t challenge hard enough “is this the right way to test the idea”.

    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Hey guys,

      I think this is a complex question – I think its Ok for animals to be used in research if they are treated well and there is good reason to use them. But ends don’t always justify results so I think that what you to do to the animals should be tightly controlled – you shouldn’t be allowed to do things “just to see what happens” but because all the work you have done on the bench without using animals points very strongly to animal research bring required. We are responsible for what we do and we have to use that power wisely – all scientific research in the UK is tightly controlled as far as animal usage goes and only people who have been given special permission by the Queen’s government are allowed to do animal research. Animals are very special so we must be careful what we do but sometimes if we are going to save people’s lives and understand how certain systems work the only way we can do this is by working with animals.

      So I guess I am for animal testing in a sense…but as Drew says we have to be sure of why we are doing something and in what way we are doing it!

      What do you guys think?

    • Photo: Kimberley Bryon

      Kimberley Bryon answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      This is a really complex question.

      As a scientist, I am for animal testing in the medical sense. I think that in order to develop new drugs and be able to help people, at the moment, animal testing is the only viable option. However, if there was a way to do the same kind of experiments without using animals I am sure that everyone would use that method rather than test on animals. It is not something that scientists enjoy doing but sometimes it is necessary. There are strict laws such as the Scientific Animals Procedures Act, 1986, that protect animals rather than the scientists doing the experiments. The animals are only allowed to be used when essential and suffer minimally.

      However, I personally, am against animal testing for cosmetic purposes. I would rather not buy makeup that has been tested on animals as I can live without it. This is just my own personal opinion though and I view animal testing for medical research and animal testing in the cosmetic industry as different.

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      For.. Complex question… Simple answer for me…. Animal testing = new medicines.

      Unless they come up with another way… until then… its the only way to test medicines to the highest and safeest standards.

      Good one Kaffwyn

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Hi qwerty123 and kaffwyn. Looks like you’ve hit on a hotly debated issue in science. Even here among the five of us scientists we all have different opinions. Although it seems that we agree that at least some animal testing is necessary. I am ok with animal testing. But like Drew, Amy, and Kimberley I think it should be reserved for cases where there is no other option. I 100% agree with Kimberley that animal testing should NOT be done for cosmetic products. In my opinion it is only necessarily for medical treatments that can make a real difference in someone’s health. I am also against testing on more intelligent animals such as Chimps and Organutans. These animals have intelligence levels on par with small children – they are therefore aware of their situation. Testing can be very traumatic for them. I think many countries in Europe are more progressive than here in the States – banning testing on such intelligent animals.

      This is a really tough question!