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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