For The Greater Good?

This was originally posted to my blog, Diabetes Odyssey.

This is a very controversial, touchy, difficult topic to cover. Especially from my very personal point of view. Animal testing for science, medicine, and “the greater good”.

To be straight forward, I do not stand on the side that argues for animal testing. I also do not stand completely against it. I despise using any creature against it’s will (just because they can’t say no, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t). I think it is horrible to force animals to be subject to torturous studies that lead to illness, injury, and death for the sake of science.

I know why animal use is considered necessary and important in medicine. I also know that many times it is useless and not at all necessary. Just because a group of mice responded well to a treatment doesn’t mean those results will be repeated in humans.

I simply do not believe that any living, breathing, feeling creature deserves to suffer in any way…for any reason.

On the other hand, I am alive today in big part because of animal testing.

Animal testing/study has made many, many treatments, medicines, cures, etc. possible. A whole lot of medical breakthroughs and advancements are due in big part to animal testing.

As I said, myself and countless other humans and animals are alive and well living full long lives with type 1 diabetes because Dr. Banting and his team used dogs and cattle to study diabetes and bring insulin to the world of medical treatment.

Quite frankly, thousands upon thousands of type 1 diabetics didn’t die in childhood because some dogs and cattle had their pancreas’ removed (causing them to become diabetic)and then were injected with the harvested insulin to see if it would help their diabetes.

This sounds brutal and inhumane, and it is. But it saved the lives of so, so many type 1 diabetics over the past 100 years.

But was it really necessary? Did they really have to do such things to dogs and cows in order to find out that insulin could save lives? Was there some other, kinder route they could have taken?

(Side note: eventually Dr. Banting and his assistant did try the insulin on themselves before going into actual human trials).

I honestly doubt it. We have to take into account the time period, the knowledge of medicine, the resources, the technologies of the time. And we also have to take to mind the fact that most humans are unwilling to study on their own kind…that’s just unconscionable, right?.


( Dr. Banting, Charles Best, and one of the lab dogs)

The fact is it’s OK to do such things to animals…for the greater good. Right?

I really can’t argue. I don’t like the idea of doing anything to an animal we wouldn’t do to ourselves (let’s just forget the fact that I’m a hypocrite here because I do eat meat…not human, though). But I have to admit I am eternally grateful to those doctors (scientists) and those dogs and cattle for saving mine and so many others lives.

For me, personally, this is a very tough topic, I have so many mixed feelings about it.

The fact is life and feelings and morals and values and so many things that should be just aren’t black and white.

Just because I don’t like causing animals to suffer should I refuse insulin and let myself die in protest of it?

Hell no! I value my own life, too.

Yes, I’m quite aware that I have pissed off a whole lot of people with this post.

1 Like

Not pissed off here, Tamra; I think you handled a very controversial subject in a very even-handed manner.

While I love animals (except cockroaches), used to work at the San Francisco Zoo and have had all types of pets over the years (cats, dogs, birds of prey, hamsters, mice, snakes, tarantulas, fish), I do eat meat (chickens and cows and fish) and I believe animal testing is a necessary evil. IMO, the bottom line is that human life, whether one likes it or not, is more important. You can call this attitude “species-centric”, “cruel”, “unfeeling” or whatever you like, but it is what it is. I would [reluctantly] sacrifice any animal in a New York minute if that’s what it took to keep my daughter alive. That being said, using animals for medical research needs to be done in the most humane way possible.