Before researchers test drugs in human clinics the drugs are tested on animals. This is to determine the toxicity, dosing and the efficiency of the drug, hence seeing if it is safe for human use. Cosmetics are also tested this way. This process is called Animal Testing or Animal Research.
Animal Testing has created a major backlash. Some perceive it as cruel, as it is technically using animals for human gain. An alternative view is that it is simply necessary for medical process.
There are many arguments for animal testing. The principal one is that it clears any doubt about the safety of the drug and can help save peoples lives.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution can be incorporated into Buddhism. As a Buddhist would realise everything changes and nothing stays the same. With animal testing, the testing actually can benefit the animals since it helps them become stronger by furthering their DNA.
However, a Buddhists view on animal testing is unclear. For example, within Buddhism, Karma and Suffering (Dukka) are two main aspects. Karma is another way of saying “what goes around comes around”. This means, someone who gained bad Karma in their past life would have come back as an animal.
“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.”
– His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Though there are many arguments in support of animal testing, there are also many against it. The animals, for example, may react differently than humans to the drug.
In Buddhism, there is a strong belief that humans and animals are equal. There are six billion people in the world, so why can’t researchers test the drugs on humans rather than animals? Humans can consent in partaking in research, but animals can not. Animals do not have their own life, which people, including Buddhists may not be happy about.
The above quote was a statement by Tenzin Gyatso, the current and fourteenth Dalai Lama. He is trying to say that any life is equal to humans, so how would humans cope if they were in the shoes of the animals?
Many Companies are well known for using animal testing in cosmetics, such as L’Oreal. This can be seen as completely unnecessary as cosmetics can be tested on humans easily. The Body Shop is a company famous for not partaking in animal testing, and yet it still comes up with incredibly good products will over 2,000 stores in 50 countries. All Body Shop products are quoted as being “100% vegetarian”. The company is worth around half a billion pounds, which shows how a company can be successful by finding alternative methods to animal testing.
Buddhists, I believe, would not agree to cosmetic testing as there is a proven alternative.
Some people believe we should live until we naturally die without medical intervention. Medical Science in this respect could therefore be seen as cheating death.
Clearly, there are many different views on animal testing. I, however, believe that in order to further medical process, animal testing is necessary, but should be kept to a minimum. I believe these animals have a life and we should not use their lives to further our own. The only type of animal testing I completely disagree with is Cosmetic Testing as I feel there is no need for it. The Buddhist faith seems to have similar views as myself. Animal research is evidently a controversial topic, I believe until there has been a breakthrough where animals are not needed for research, it should continue.