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What about vivisection (experiments on animals)? Don't we need this for improved human health?

As indicated previously, the Torah mandates that we show compassion to animals. However, in Judaism, animals are not considered to be equal to human beings. The Jewish tradition sanctions animal experiments that benefit humans, as long as unnecessary pain is avoided. The question thus becomes one of whether or not people are really benefited and if other methods are available.

While most laboratory experiments on animals are designed to discover cures for diseases related to our high consumption of flesh foods, human beings would benefit far more through vegetarian diets and other positive lifestyle changes? There is no justification for having a diet which requires horribly cruel treatment of animals, and then brutally mistreating millions of other animals to seek cures for illnesses related to that diet.

Do experiments performed on animals produce results which are valid for people, especially when diseases in the test animals are artificially induced? There is an ever-growing list of drugs that were deemed safe after very extensive animal testing, which later proved to be carcinogenic, mutagenic (causing birth defects) or toxic (poisonous) to humans. Conversely, penicillin, our most useful antibiotic is toxic to many animal species.

Many laboratory experiments are completely unnecessary. Must we force dogs to smoke to reconfirm the health hazards of cigarettes? Do we have to starve dogs and monkeys to understand human starvation? Do we need to cut, blind, burn, and chemically destroy animals to produce another type of lipstick, mascara or shampoo?

A reduction of animal experiments does not mean that experiments have to be done on people. Healthier lifestyles would avoid the need for many experiments. Also many new approaches to advancing scientific knowledge have been developed. Dr. Fred Rosner, a modern expert on Jewish medical ethics, states that if alternate means, e.g. tissue culture studies, are available for obtaining the same information, animal experimentation might be considered as unnecessary cruelty to animals, and be prohibited. Dr. Rosner also indicates that animal experiments would not be permitted simply to satisfy intellectual curiosity, without a definite medical objective. (Fred Rosner, "Animal Experimentation: the Jewish View", in the 1986 Jewish Directory and Almanac, Ivan L. Tillem, ed. New York: Pacific Press 1986, p. 471)

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