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In recent years, ethics has been broken down from a mere term to being differently defined in fields like psychology, cosmetology, medicine, fashion industry and everyday life. Animal ethics in the field of cosmetology emphasis on no overpowering choice and health of animals during scientific research. In medicine, it reiterates that researchers should make significant efforts to minimize the “discomfort” and infection caused to the animal subjects. Moreover, in psychology, the researchers have to refrain from placing the well-being of humans above animals. Likewise, in everyday life, ethics are simply questioning should one eat meat or not. Though these well-laid ethics are known by the whole world and several sanctions are formed to enforce these ethics 80% of the countries do not adhere to these. This report will be focusing on two issues: mistreatment of animal rights and animal ethics in scientific experimentation. Also this essay will share examples of animal exepimentations and their results.
Whether using animals for our own use is “acceptable” or not is highly debatable as each’s definition of “acceptable” is different, what might be acceptable to the world might not be acceptable to a particular country to region to me. Likewise, the term “discomfort” is controversial in animals ethics as the pain tolerance differs individually. In psychology, informed consent is needed before the experiment, and participants should be debriefed after the experiment, both are impossible with animals. Therefore, what is ethically acceptable is a big question.
Animal Rights and Ethics in Research in Global Perspective
Animal experimentation is primarily done to observe the biological effects or the change in behaviour caused by a substance. In 1958 Harlow carried out a research to study the bonding mechanism of Rhesus monkey to their mother. Whether they would bond to wire (uncomfortable) mother who provided them with food, or cloth (comfortable) mother who only provided comfort. Harlow's research was unethical as the monkeys suffered emotional harm after being in isolation. The absence of communication lead them to depression and female subjects smashed their infant's face into the floor after giving birth. Similar to this was in 1965 Martin Seligman’s experiment on learned helplessness where electric shocks were given to the dogs, the experiment provided foundations in positive psychology and a pathway to symptoms of depression.
These experiments, though cruel helped psychologist gain a better insight into animal behaviour and social development of humans. In my opinion, if the psychologist is aware of the outcome, torturing them is a breach of psychological ethics but at the same time it important to weigh benefits of research to humans and animals and potential harm to animals for doing the research.
Currently, in 2018 every procedure even as small as drawing blood from an animal has to be approved by the local IACUC where the researches are asked to identify less invasive techniques to perform the same procedure. Precautions taken to minimise the breach of ethics slows down the discovery of new treatments but take care of animal welfare which is a win-win.
This Issue in Indian National Perspective
India amended an animal experimentation ban in 2013 after being influenced by international bans. Though commendable, it has caused a serious hit on Indian clinical research progress. Priorly, fewer resources were consumed to make cheap medicines as they could be tested on animals. However, after the ban on experimentation, India’s growing GDP met a pit stop in research as the scientists couldn’t perform practicals. In the western countries like the US, drugs that can be experimented on animals have quickly found their way in the market. Due to the lack of progress in India, the government is providing fewer funds for research.
According to “Clinical Reader” India spends half ($.56 billion) of what first world countries spend on clinical research. The progress is only worsening as less than 1.4% of global clinical trials are done in India which will prolong new breakthrough in Indian pharmaceuticals.
At the present moment, alternatives aren’t in action and the researchers are adhering to the conventional method of human volunteers for testing which has caused a havoc of 2,644 deaths in India over 5 years. Immediate actions need to be taken by the nation. In my perspective, the state government should imply conservation laws for animals like goats as well. This will set an example for other states to follow. It is not ethical to support cows due to religious sentiments and leave other animals to be killed.
Animal Ethics of Typical Usage in Global Perspective
Everyday cosmetics like lipsticks, nail polishes and perfume contain animal ingredients. Lipsticks contain squalene, an oily substance which is retrieved from the liver of sharks. It is a great moisturiser as it easily penetrates and gets absorbed into the skin, making it a suitable ingredient for lipstick. Sharks are hunted and killed in large amounts as the demand for this oil is only increasing.
Hunting of animals is unethical as the interests of the chased creatures are genuinely disregarded by keeping in mind the end goal to fulfil less basic human interests. United Kingdom(UK) based companies, ‘Lush’ and ‘The Body Shop’ have defied these unethical practices and eradicated all the animal ingredients used in making of their product. ‘Lush’ encourages and deals only with suppliers that refrain from using animal ingredients. ‘The Body Shop’ has been ‘Leaping Bunny’ certified (enables consumers to easily identify products that don’t contain animal ingredients). The company has been campaigning against the use of animal ingredients since 1989. According to me, the allowance of animal ingredients is unethical as it is cruel to kill animals to use them as ingredients, even when alternatives are available.
To cap it, all animal ethics are also involved in food. Veganism has seen an increase in 60% in its followers making it the most popular food trend of the last decade. Millions have become vegan to support healthy eating and abolishment of cruelty towards animals for food, clothing and cosmetics. In food, several alternatives to meat like tofu, soybeans and lentils, almond and soy milk are being consumed. They have a high nutrient value and are low-calorie substitutes. Recent statistics suggest that individuals can save at least 50 animals per year by going vegan. This directly decreases the number of animal slaughterhouses for meat. Having witnessed the pain the animals in the slaughterhouse actually go through, this has bolted shut the ideas of eating meat for me.
Another everyday use items are purses, belts and even jewellery made out of exotic animals like snakes, alligators and elephant which are mostly captured by the means of poaching. Poaching in India has also left its big mark towards animal cruelty. WWF recently identified 85% of all species in the red list to be present in India. This includes Asian elephants who are worth millions of rupees due to their ivory tusks and their skin, facing the threat of extinction due to their severe decline in population from 31,000to 27,300. Asian elephants are highly immune to cancer as they hold cancer resistant genome which can be used to find a cure. However, it is perilous to experiment on them as they are endangered. Thus, reiterating the negative and unethical impact of poaching on animals and humans. ¨Why is hunting good for the environment¨ a study conducted by a state-approved lab shows that the there has been a decline of 4% in the number of hunters in India causing a drastic increase in deer population. Deers are feeding and egg-laying grounds for black-legged ticks who spread Lyme disease. Deers have caused a lot of agricultural loss as they either eat the crops or ruin crops by stomping on them. Therefore, animals who require serious population controlling can be controlled using alternative methods like sterilization and extensive fencing.
Course of Action
Firstly, the U.N should impose heavy sanctions around the world on the use of animals in experimentation and if found guilty severe consequences should be imposed. For ensuring the sanctions to be practical, research should be heavily funded to develop cheap and effective alternatives to animal testing This can include vitro experimentation that involves human cells being grown in labs and then tested upon. Vitro tests have already become a success as it is detecting tumour and cancer cells in early stages in human bodies.
Additionally, researchers should extensively use computer modelling of humans as they are the next best alternative to using humans, this will to an extent eliminate animal testing. For eg. how a person with a disease reacts to different drugs can be accurately predicted using the models.
Furthermore, veganism should be promoted as research suggests increase in life expectancy as a result of healthy food consumption. Vitamin supplements and a proper intake of pulses and grains can take care of the B12 and D3 deficiency. Eliminating protein rich foods like egg, meat, beef is impossible in regions where farming and agriculture is minimal, for such issues a cap can be set by each country and state on the limit of meat consumption eg. a butcher can only sell meat to a particular limit.
Moreover, A strict ban should be amended which would force beauty companies to stop using animals ingredients in their products. Through adverts and social-media, consumers need to become aware of cruelty-free products and should be encouraged to buy ‘Leaping Bunny’ certified products.
This report has altered my perspective. Initially, I believed using animals for our own purpose was acceptable as humans are superior but now after knowing about horrifying experiments and poaching, my perspective has changed to being that animals and human are interdependent. All of humanity, therefore, should work together for an animal-cruelty free world for everyone's betterment.
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