Humans are animals, but it’s just not close enough.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the calls for animal testing to be phased out within the cosmetic industry are increasing, but animal testing within the field of medical research is still widely accepted as a “necessary evil.”

Even at a surgical training level, it seems highly acceptable to sacrifice animal lives in order to save hypothetical human lives, despite the many surgical training programs in place within teaching hospitals around the world that give surgeons experience operating on their actual target demographic – human patients. Military from both Australia and the U.K. still use live pigs for trauma surgery training, while the U.S. military has recently been criticised after graphic videos were leaked of military personal causing horrific injuries to semi-conscious goats in order for their medics-in-training to gain surgical experience for use in the field.

The reason that the use of live animals in medical training is so contentious is because alternatives are available and – if the studies on the subject are correct – actually provide better training outcomes. The trauma surgery teaching programs offered by hospitals do require a long term commitment which the military often cannot afford to invest in due to time constraints, but modern technology has provided innovations which address these needs. Realistic trauma dummies that actually bleed, breathe and in some cases talk or moan are currently being used by many training centres, including the 81st Regional Support Command (pictured below), and have received positive reviews from both training staff and students. They can be used to simulate almost any type of injury and have realistic organs and blood vessels which can be repaired using the usual surgical techniques, so why is the use of animals for medical purposes so prevalent?

[Image Source: http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2/c/images/2013/04/29/293165/size0.jpg%5D

According to Michelle Thew, several journals rejected a report detailing the findings of 39 researchers about human response to inflammatory diseases, because though the researchers had done extensive research on their human volunteers, they had failed to test and reproduce their findings on mice subjects. The researchers did further research comparing human and mice results, only to find that there was little correlation. The journals are not alone in their ridiculous attitude to human medical research: the FDA in the US requires certain drugs be tested on animals before they are approved for human use despite the fact that (as noted by Sheree Stachura) 95% of drugs that make it through animal trials are harmful to humans and have to be scrapped, and that only 5-25% of products tested on both animal and human subjects have the same results between the species.

The attitude that human medical trials are only viable if they are first demonstrated by animal testing results indicates an antiquated and ingrained over-reliance on research tradition, despite the “bad science.” Animal testing for medical research is a system stubbornly clinging to its outdated beliefs while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that animal results show little or no correlation to the human needs that the experimentation is trying to address.

Even if you do not have any ethical qualms about the well-being of the animals used in laboratory testing, you’d have to agree that the science shows that animal testing for human medical research is a wasteful and unsound research method.

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