People often say something like the following:
“We know that animal experimentation is harmful to the animals who die, and that’s a pity. But it’s sadly necessary to find cures for serious diseases and thus save human lives.”
I’m not a scientist, I have nothing to say about the science of this. But, in general, if someone says to you “I don’t like doing X, but it’s sadly necessary to acheive Y”, we would make some assumptions. For example, we would assume that the person saying this had already done absolutely everything else they could to acheive Y, and was only after that coming to method X. We would assume that method X was a last resort.
Now in this example, that means supposing that the government and businesses are doing absolutely everything they can to save human lives. It means supposing that there is no other use of the resources spent on animal experimentation that would have a similar effect on saving human lives. This is conspicuously false.
Things that resources could be used for that would save human lives:
-subsidising sanitation and clean water across the world;
-making medicines available across the world;
-employing and training more medical staff, both for physical and mental illnesses;
-improving the environments people live in to make them less disease-causing;
-ensuring that everyone on earth has food;
-ensuring that everyone on earth has shelter;
-granting refugee status to everyone from a country where their life was substantially at risk;
-redistributing wealth in general to reduce crime and raise life expectancy.
Etc. Does the government or private business do these things? No. There are a few token gestures but they are drops in the proverbial ocean.
On the other hand, things that large amounts of resources ARE being spent on even in this same sector that clearly make no contribution to saving human lives:
-advertising new drugs, marketing them, lobbying the government to buy them or promote them, etc.
-making new drugs for lifestyle problems like erectile dysfunction;
-preventing existing drugs being accessed by poor individuals or poor countries;
It would seem that the forces saying this are in fact not remotely concerned with saving people’s lives. And yet then they turn around and say “out of all the methods available to us for saving lives, we have decided that this particular one, which on the downside is grossly immoral but on the upside requires no big social changes, nor interfering with anyone’s profits, must be supported.”
That is bullshit. Animal experimentation to create new drugs is not backed because it saves lives. It is backed because it is a method of saving lives that fits neatly with how society is set up and provides its backers with profits and increased power (in the sense that knowledge is power – new knowlegde and new treatments make the government more able to do things, whereas better use of existing treatments doesn’t).
It is backed not because people believe that human lives are worth sacrificing animal lives. It is backed because people believe comfort and profit are worth sacrificing animal lives.