Peter Singer asked the question ‘why is that we have a better time processing carrying out testing out on Monkeys than babies who are born without a brain.’ About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with anencephaly which is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Anencephaly happens if the upper part of the neural tube does not close all the way. This often results in a baby being born without the front part of the brain, and the thinking and coordinating part of the brain.
Logical but deeply dark, this suggestion cuts straight to the heart of how the human being visualises itself amongst the undeniable evolution of time, space and nature. Animals seem to find it easier to grasp the inherent facts of life than we do, and this is such a blessing as well as a curse, but the animal kingdom in its entirety is much more ruthless than ours. In a completely linear world, Peter Singer would be an absolute genius for making this connection but you can understand the moral implications for parents who have to come to terms with this harrowing situation and then give up their babies for medical research.
In the UK around 3000 monkeys are used annually to develop and test the safety and effectiveness of potential human medicines and vaccines. It has been proven that primates are highly intelligent animals who form complex social relationships and experience emotions in a similar way to humans, which means they can suffer as we do. They can experience pain and psychological distress as a result of experimental procedures, and seen as humans have the same ancestry as primates it can seem cruel that we have decided that primates are fair game to harm for human benefit. The imaginary moral line we’ve decided to draw leaves humans on one side and anything else on the other.
Monkeys are used as models for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, HIV, Cystic Fibrosis, Polio and many other diseases. Not all animals suffer when they are used as subjects for testing medicines but currently it doesn’t seem like we have a better choice and the result is that millions of humans are helped with the constant breakthroughs in medicine and are able to live longer and more comfortable lives due to the testing being done on animals. I can categorically say I am against testing anything beauty related on animals, but to ease the suffering of humans and safely create better medicines it seems we have to harm animals. and that’s the harsh reality.
Currently most of the research is conducted on mice, fish, rats and birds. These four species account for around 96% of testing and in some cases, monkey’s are used, and it’s the fact that they are so close to us terms of DNA and how they may suffer that causes concern. There is a distance which we can put between ourselves and fish and birds because the physiological differences are vast and that’s why its easier to accept testing in principle but in truth we don’t know how much distress birds and fishes are being caused by us.
As humans there are certain things people do not want to talk about but I believe that health should be an open and transparent book. Our medical testing techniques will evolve and hopefully we can get to a place where monkey’s can be left alone, but I wouldn’t want this to happen at the expense of any human suffering. I can also sympathise with parents for holding on to any connection with a child born with a serious brain injury, as human beings it is important to not underestimate the power of emotional intelligence embrace connections.