Photo © 2012 AFP/AAP/Liu Jin
Tonight, The Project looks at the emotional debate surrounding the issue of animal testing in laboratories.
Statistics show that more than 5.5 million animals were used in scientific research in Australia in 2010.
Not all of this research was the invasive laboratory stuff – some was simply observation. Nonetheless, much animal testing involves potential or actual harm to the animal.
While many people object to animal testing in superficial fields – cosmetics, for example – the issue becomes more vexed when we’re talking about searching for medical breakthroughs or testing potentially life-saving vaccines for side-effects.
Critics point out that animals differ from humans in anatomy, metabolism, and genetics, and question whether data can truly be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy.
But that hasn’t stopped animal testing from leading to such breakthroughs as the treatment of diabetes with insulin, and vaccines for polio and leprosy.
Medical researchers say they are obliged to ensure that therapies provided to patients are the safest they can be. If testing on animals prevents deaths in humans, is that for the greater good?
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