Back in high school, we were taught that we have evolved from apes…Given the superior knowledge and extraordinary feats achieved by our ancestors – the vedic seers, it is hard to believe that they were apes. Evolution is not the change of form from a monkey to a human being, it is the soul that evolves (or devolves); the same way a 64 bit computer does not become a super computer, but it is the technology that evolves. And then according to its state of evolution, which is determined by its karmas and desires, the soul may take up any form – human, monkey, cow or a pig…Animal too is life. Respect it and care for it. For all you know, you could be it in your next birth.
The question is not, can they reason, nor, can they talk. But, can they suffer? – Jeremy Bentham
In 1985 a masque monkey called Britches had his eyelids sewn shut and a sonar sensor attached to his head as part of an experiment to test sensory substitution devices for blind people. In 2005 during a study conducted at Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (USA), a pig received lethal dose of radiation which resulted in organ failure and chronic bleeding leading to its death overnight.
Mentioned above are just two of the many cases of the mental and physical suffering millions of animals go through in the name of scientific research. Experimentation and testing of products and procedures on animals, in most cases causes them pain and discomfort. People fighting for the ethical treatment of animals, believe and stand for the philosophy, that it is morally and ethically wrong to intentionally cause pain and suffering to any other living creature, whether human or not. Lives of all creatures’ great or small have value. They argue that respecting lives of a certain species of living organisms is like practicing racism and/or sexism. The right to be treated with respect rests on the creature being a ‘subject of life’ rather than belonging to a certain species. It is also believed that much of the animal experimentation is performed out of curiosity and may have very little or no scientific merit.
While many people from the scientific community argue that experimentation on animals is quite important as a tool for scientific progress, there is a large amount of evidence to suggest otherwise. Activists say that in case of drugs and cosmetics, many examples show that animal models are not predictive of human health. Thalidomide, a drug administered to pregnant women in the 1960s for morning sickness, resulted in deformities in children being born to these women. This drug had already been tested on several animal species, and had been found to be safe, even in large doses. So even though we may share genetic material with animals, the overall difference in the inter-play of these genes and differences at the molecular and cellular levels can result in different responses to drugs.
Even though the situation is far from perfect, progress has been made towards reducing experimentation on animals. Though a complete ban on animal testing is far from its goal, the European Union (which includes 21 member states including UK, France, Germany, Italy and others) did ban cosmetic testing on animals in 2009. UK and France also require organizations conducting animal testing to procure licenses. In the USA, The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 is responsible for regulation of animal testing on primates. In Canada, the provincial and federal governments have certain acts and regulations to protect animals against unethical treatment. In India, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has banned the use of live animals in dissection and other experiments in educational and research institutions; however scientists conducting new molecular research are exempted from the ban.