Cruelty Towards Animals
- Part 4 -

Angelina Naorem *


An estimated 26 million animals are used every year in the United States for scientific and commercial testing. Animals are used to develop medical treatments, determine the toxicity of medications, check the safety of products destined for human use, and other biomedical, commercial, and health care uses. Research on living animals has been practiced since at least 500 BC. Animal experiments are widely used to develop new medicines and to test the safety of other products.

Many of these experiments cause pain to the animals involved or reduce their quality of life in other ways. If it is morally wrong to cause animals to suffer then experimenting on animals produces serious moral problems. Animal experimenters are very aware of this ethical problem and acknowledge that experiments should be made as humane as possible.

There are two positions on animal experiments standing in for and against. In favour argue that suffering is minimized in all experiments and human benefits are gained which could not be obtained by using other methods.

However, the list against animal experiments is long and overlap the benefits as it causes suffering to animals, the benefits to human beings are not proven and any benefits to human beings that animal testing does provide could be produced in other ways. The Animals are very different from human beings and therefore make poor test subjects. Drugs that pass animal tests are not necessarily safe.

Animal tests may mislead researchers into ignoring potential cures and treatments.95% of animals used in experiments are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act. Animal tests do not reliably predict results in human beings. Animal tests are more expensive than alternative methods and are a waste of government research dollars.

Most experiments involving animals are flawed, wasting the lives of the animal subjects. Animals can suffer like humans do, so it is speciesism to experiment on them while we refrain from experimenting on humans.

The Animal Welfare Act has not succeeded in preventing horrific cases of animal abuse in research laboratories. Religious traditions tell us to be merciful to animals, so we should not cause them suffering by experimenting on them. Medical breakthroughs involving animal research may still have been made without the use of animals.

Harm versus benefit theory

The case for animal experiments is that they will produce such great benefits for humanity that it is morally acceptable to harm a few animals. The equivalent case against is that the level of suffering and the number of animals involved are both so high that the benefits to humanity don't provide moral justification.

The three R's

The three Rs are a set of principles that scientists are encouraged to follow in order to reduce the impact of research on animals. The three Rs are: Reduction, Refinement, Replacement.
o Reduction- Reducing the number of animals used in experiments by improving experimental techniques of data analysis and sharing information with other researchers

o Refinement: Refining the experiment or the way the animals are cared for so as to reduce their suffering by using less invasive techniques better medical care and better living conditions

o Replacement: Replacing experiments on animals with alternative techniques such as experimenting on cell cultures instead of whole animals using computer models, studying human volunteers and using epidemiological studies.


The exotic "pet trade" is big business. Selling protected wildlife in stores, auctions, or on the Internet is one of the largest sources of criminal earnings, behind only arms smuggling and drug trafficking. But the animals pay the price. Many don't survive the journey from their homes, and those who do survive often suffer in captivity and die prematurely from malnutrition, an unnatural and uncomfortable environment, loneliness, and the overwhelming stress of confinement. Animals destined for the pet are yanked from their homes in places such as Australia, Africa, and Brazil and are subjected to grueling transport.

Parrots may have their beaks and feet taped and be stuffed into plastic tubes that can easily be hidden in luggage, and stolen bird and reptile eggs are concealed in special vests so that couriers can bypass X-ray machines at airports. Baby turtles have been trapped inside their shells with tape and shoved by the dozen into tube socks, and infant pythons have been shipped in CD cases.

In the hands of unprepared or incompetent caretakers, many exotic animals die or are abandoned. The head of the Environmental Crime Investigation unit in Western Cape, South Africa, estimates that 90 percent of exported reptiles die within a year. Disease threat to humans 75% of all new infectious diseases originate from non-human animals.

The monkey-pox outbreak that affected dozens of people in the Midwest in 2003 was traced to a Gambian rat from Africa. The herpes B virus, which is nearly 70 percent fatal to humans, can be transferred from macaques to humans. Human contact with reptiles and other exotic animals accounts for 70,000 cases of salmonellosis each year. Parrots can transfer psittacosis, which can be deadly to humans.


Animals are under threat from a new kind of exploitation through genetic engineering (GE) and cloning. Scientists and the biotechnology companies who sponsor them use genetic engineering (GE) on farm animals in an attempt to achieve higher productivity (e.g.. meat, milk, wool), a modification of characteristic traits (e.g.. larger muscles, faster growth rates), an improved resistance to diseases, an improved uptake of nutrients or an improved adaptation to specific environmental conditions.

The technology is also applied to laboratory animals so that these may be more 'useful' for animal testing and experimentation purposes, again by exhibiting the desired traits.
1) Scientists want to be able to transmit specific traits of agricultural products beyond the natural boundaries of species (e.g. spider genes into goats, human genes into pigs)

2) Animals bred by traditional breeding do not, in general, have to put up with cruel and deliberately or accidentally induced deformities and ongoing bodily malfunctions (e.g..liver and kidney damage, grossly deformed hearts, spleens and genitalia)

Apart from the immense suffering they cause to animals (not that that can be so easily pushed aside), these technologies are unrivalled, ridiculously costly and inefficient, and, most importantly, unsafe to both animals and humans. That is because genetic engineering is a hit-or-miss process. A large number of animals have to undergo surgery in order to produce a few 'successes'.


* Angelina Naorem wrote this article for
The writer is BBA-LLB (Hons.) , School of Law, ITM University, Gurgaon and can be contacted at angelinanaorem(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on June 07, 2015.

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