Should animals be given more rights, to live without suffering, in the way that humans are allowed to? Or are their feelings less important than those of people?


Using Animals for Vivisection

Vivisection is probably the most controversial of all the animal rights issues. 'Vivisection' literally means the cutting apart of live animals, though the term, in its broad sense means any experimentation on live animals. Most experiments don't involve any cutting, but many of them cause the animals pain and distress.  

Experimenting on animals first began as a way for surgeons to practise operations without carrying these out on humans. In the United Kingdom, any experiment involving vivisection must be licensed by the Home Secretary. Many of the experiments test new medicines which could be beneficial to humans, but many animals are killed in the process. Animal testing has been branded as unreliable by anti-vivisectionists, along with some doctors and researchers, as animals can react to chemicals and conditions in very different ways to humans.  For example, the drug Thalidomide, which caused numerous human birth defects and thousands of foetal deaths worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s, had successfully passed animal testing. 

Animals are also used to test new cosmetic ingredients, posing the question of whether we should put animals in harm’s way simply so that we can look good.  

Some of the most controversial animal experiments are tests like the Draize eye test,  in which a substance is dripped into the open eye of an animal (usually a rabbit) and any reactions are observed. The LD100 test (Lethal Dose 100%) uses 60 to 100 animals, and determines how much of a chemical or medicine the animals need to ingest before they all die. The LD50 test is similar, except that the dose needed to kill half of the animals is determined. This then assists in deciding a safe dosage level for humans.

Read More: Using Animals for Food

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