Animal Experimentation

The scientific community has the responsibility of reporting research that benefits society at large. In the ideal world, scientific experiments would hold ethics to be a top priority. The reality is that animals are often used in testing for a variety of desired outcomes. Animal cruelty has been brought to national attention, but not all animals are recognized in these efforts. How we define animals influences what we deem as acceptable for their participation in experiments. 

The parasite, Diplostomum pseudospathaceum, affects larger organisms such as trout and birds. Although it is microscopic, the parasite has a complex life cycle that is marked by its presence in various stages of multiple species. It finds itself in a bird’s excretions, a part of a snail’s diet, and within the skin of a fish. Each species that the parasite infects is notably different from the other, however, the parasitic relationships are common for each animal.

If it’s directly impacting bigger animals, I’d suggest that it should be treated likewise, especially when considering its use in experiments. The experimentation by Nina Hafer, a German parasitologist, seems to believe otherwise. Scientists at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology infected an organism with mature and immature parasites. Hafer’s reasoning is that “ It contributes to showing how many traits and species can be affected by host manipulation, which should make it an important factor in how parasites alter the ecological interactions of their hosts.” The parasites are dangerous to the host organism, yet still used by scientists for their experiment. Even the word “manipulation” suggests that there is a control of one species by another. Humans are often controlling other animals as test subjects. Proponents of animal testing may argue that such acts are necessary for the advancement of science. They argue the need to examine results on other animals before determining its safety for humans.  

In most experiments that utilize animals, the test subject can not consent to the practice. Even if the process is as simple as observing the animal, the lack of consent is unethical. In addition to understanding the parasite, scientists have also conducted studies on the fish that become infected. Preston reports that “researchers simulated a bird attack by making a shadow swoop over the tank, the fish froze – but infected fish resumed swimming sooner than uninfected ones.” The purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate how parasites can minimize a fish’s chance of survival. The fish, however, becomes an unconsenting subject in the act of experimentation. 

The ever-changing scientific world brings us new methods for approaching science every day. Without the numerous experiments by scientists, we wouldn’t be able to survive as a species. The drawback to modern science is the unethical experiments that are inflicted upon other animals. Any animal that is used for science is presupposed to be inferior to humans because they are subject to treatment that wouldn’t be acceptable for fellow humans.

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