Animal Rights (Point Counterpoint) by Kevin Hile

By Kevin Hile

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Cruel and unnecessary tests should be banned. Despite the passage of the AWA, many standard tests continue to be conducted that animal rights groups such as PETA believe seriously abuse animals. Two of the most infamous of these are the LD-50 and Draize tests. Point2 1/14/04 7:00 AM Page 55 Animals Should Not Be Used in Medical Research The LD-50 test was designed in 1927 by J. W. Trevan, a British pharmacologist, to discover the levels at which certain chemicals were lethal to animals. The name “LD-50” refers to the dosage level of a chemical that results in the deaths (LD = lethal dose) of 50 percent of the test subjects, usually rats.

On the other hand, whereas large brains don’t always equal intelligence, some animals with much smaller brains have surprised scientists with their mental acuity. A good example of this is the African Grey parrot, which has a brain about the size of a walnut. In 1990, Dr. Irene M. 3 Most people know that parrots can imitate sounds and words very well, but scientists had been unsuccessful in showing that parrots can understand and participate in a meaningful dialogue before Pepperberg’s work. Pepperberg was able to demonstrate that parrots can use words as labels to properly identify objects, colors, and shapes; they can also use conjunctions, grasp concepts such as “absence” and “permanence,” express desires verbally, and count (although she cautions that Alex the parrot might have just been very good at estimating numbers of objects and may not, in fact, have been counting).

The first recorded use of animal experimentation,” according to Jordan Curnutt in his Animals and the Law: A Sourcebook, “occurred in about 450 B. C . E . ” 1 Such experimentation continued throughout the development of Greek and Roman civilization. Point2 1/14/04 7:00 AM Page 53 Animals Should Not Be Used in Medical Research anything to ease their pain, and since these early scientists often wished to observe the functions of a living body in action, the animals were usually not killed before procedures were performed.

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