Animals have been used for the benefit of humans ever since we came down from the trees onto the African plains. The first great mammals gave us clothes to keep us warm, and food to keep us from starving. Today, animals make up a massive part of modern life, with most people, especially in the west, eating meat as a major part of their diet. Leather, made from animals, is also one of the most popular products used for clothing in the world today, and has been for many centuries.
However, there is another, darker side to the use of animals by modern society, and that is indeed Vivisection. There is at present a great debate surrounding vivisection; that is, the use of animals in laboratory tests. Both sides of the argument are quite willing to present to you their case, but what is the reality? Is it really necessary, or a cruel evil?
The against argument would attempt to point you to what they would call terrible images of animal testing. They use horrific pictures in order to shock people into supporting their causes. Indeed, animals have been raised in horrible conditions in the past, but in the modern west, laws uphold the treatment of animals so that they do not have to live in the sorts of conditions which the animal rights activists would have you believe.
Secondly, they would say that the results of animal tests are not directly applicable to humans. That is indeed true, and is a reason why the results of animal tests are not directly applied to humans; rather, they are used to help build up a picture overall of the effect of a new drug or treatment.
As well as this, though the animal rights campaigners may have parts of a valid argument, they then destroy their own case, as some violent extremists inside animal rights groups attack and destroy property and people to bring attention to their case. Sadly, it is all negative attention.
The argument for animal testing has many other valid points. Firstly, we see that though these animals have indeed been bred to be tested upon, their quality of life is not far removed from that which they would enjoy if wild. If the animals are seen to be in undue suffering, a trained vet is always on the premises of any animal testing facility to ensure that this does not happen.
Secondly, testing on animals has brought us many great benefits. It allowed us to cure diabetes back in the early half of this century, by experimenting with dogs. It has allowed us to develop innumerable new treatments that have saved countless human lives, such as new treatments for HIV/AIDS that may one day allow us to wipe this disease off the face of the planet, once and for all.
There is also no real alternative to animal testing. Cultured cells, grown on plates in a lab, cannot show us the effect of a drug on the whole body, nor can it give us any indication of how the body and drug connect, and they are useless for pioneering surgical techniques. As well as this, no computer model is possibly complex or complete enough to accurately simulate the human body.
Finally, the most compelling argument is that if someone you loved was dying, would you rather that they had a drug to save them that had been tested on animals, or none at all?