Professor Marina Picciotto’s defense of animal experimentation seems to boil down to, “The ends justify the means” (“Animal research saves lives,” Jan. 28). She and her colleagues ignore the fundamental ethical questions that arise from harming other sentient beings for our own benefit.
They attempt to justify their abuse of animals in laboratories by suggesting there is a remote chance that their research somehow will help humans (which in most cases it does not), even though such behavior would, in other contexts, be criminal.
This approach to medical ethics opens the door to horrendous abuses. For example, painful, invasive experimentation on non-consenting, vulnerable humans has lead directly to medical discoveries that have saved countless lives and which people around the world benefit from every day. Would Picciotto and her colleagues condone these as well?
What is right and what it potentially useful are two different discussions, although animal experimenters would like the public to think they are one and the same. Given what we know about the rich lives of animals who are confined in laboratories, no enterprise that allows them to be isolated, poisoned, mutilated and killed can be considered ethical, regardless of the hypothetical benefits to humans.