Friday, June 17, 2016

Is vivisection always right?

I remember reading an article years ago about South Korean scientists who had added gene material from another creature to a beagle puppy, causing it to glow red in ultraviolet light. The dog was named Ruppy as I recall, which was short for Ruby Puppy. Cute.

Cute in and of itself only, I should add. There has always been at least moderate debate in the scientific community about the value of animal experimentation, vivisection I believe it's called, and well there should be. Ruppy was part of a series of experiments designed to make dogs more like humans genetically in order to use them in researching human diseases. I am not sure what to make of this. I have no particular qualms about using animals to seek cures for human ills. Yet I have to question the point of a glowing dog, even in that context.

Perhaps it was inadvertent; I don't remember whether the team of researchers intended that effect, or I missed the reason. Maybe it was simply to see what kind of genetic alterations could be effected, as a step on the ladder towards more useful experiments. I can live with that second point; but if it was the first reason, I am not so sure I would agree.

As a moral rule, doing something just to do something, doing 'science' just to see what can be done, is not particularly defensible. That's not to say that such actions are necessarily wrong, only that they seem little more than a waste of time. Especially in areas where public money may be being spent, I would go so far as to say they may be in fact wasteful of the taxpayer's cash.

Not to mention the effects on the animals. Again, I don't mind animal experimentation for the legitimate pursuit of ending diseases. But I don't see where we have the right to experiment on them merely to play with their DNA. If there is no, or within reason expected to be no, real help for human or even animal lives, I cannot see where it is right to mess with any given animal simply to do so.

Perhaps I am speaking out of turn, as I am admittedly shooting from the lip. That said, we must remember that we are not God, even when it comes to our treatment of the lower creatures with whom we share this planet. We have no right, in this area as well as almost all others, to tinker merely to tinker.

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