Summary/Strong Response

Ron Kline: “A Scientist: I Am The Enemy.” Summary. In his essay, “A Scientist: I am the Enemy,” Ron Kline defends the use of animal research in medicine. Kline declares that his love for children, and his awareness of the contribution made by advances in medical science to child health, made him take up research. Kline regrets the apathy of the general public to this issue and the tendency of politicians to pander to the demands of activists in order to gain publicity. Kline also criticizes the scientists’ tendency to remain silent in the face of the accusations made by animal-rights activists, in the “belief that a knowledgeable public would sense the importance of animal research to the public health” (Kline, 3).
Kline cites the arguments of those who oppose animal research: researchers “inflict torture on animals for the sole purpose of career advancement” (Kline, 2). animal experiments have no relevance to medicine. animal research can be easily replaced by computer simulation. Kline asserts that physicians who attempt to alleviate human pain and suffering have only three alternatives: create an animal model to test new remedies for injuries and diseases, experiment on humans or just stop all innovative research. Animal-rights activists claim that computer models can simulate animal experiments. Kline discounts these claims, saying that computer models cannot simulate complex biological systems. Kline warns that restricting animal research would close the door to new medical discoveries. He points out that most of the advances in medical science, including vaccines, antibiotics, organ transplantation and gene therapy, have their roots in animal testing. Kline condemns animal-rights activists as a “vocal but misdirected minority” (9), which gives precedence to animals over humans. He approves of the attempts to find alternatives to animal research and appreciates the need to avoid unnecessary cruelty towards animals. However, he categorically warns that restricting animal research will have dire consequences for human health and life.
Response.
Ron Kline’s passionate defense of animal research gains credibility because of his obvious dedication to children’s’ health and Kline’s own position as a medical researcher. He makes a convincing case in support of his position that restricting animal research will be “a tragedy that will cost many lives” (Kline, 9). This is in line with the general consensus in the medical world. Animal research is essential, as its utility in the discovery of new techniques and remedies in the fight against injury and disease is indisputable. It is clear that alternatives, such as in vitro experiments, microdosing, computer simulations and fMRI, can only be used as complementary methods to animal research. Animal testing is the only means of “providing direct information from the actual neural elements that underlie all our cognitive capacities” (Max Planck Institute). Kline is right in his contention that animal testing is the only way to replicate the complex human biological system.
However, Kline seems to ignore the point that animal research can be drastically reduced and refined. Over time, this strategy would successfully result in viable replacements to animal testing. One example of the successful replacement of animal testing with an in vitro method is in the case of pregnancy tests. Earlier, pregnancy testing involved killing a rabbit. These days, a woman can buy an over-the-counter kit that tests her urine for a certain hormone (Howard). This proves that persistent scientific search for alternatives will yield dividends and reduce the need for animal research.
Kline is justified in his criticism of politicians who give in to vocal animal-rights activists in order to gain political mileage. If the public is to adopt an informed position on the issue of animal research, the medical community needs to become proactive in the dissemination of accurate information to counter the emotional propaganda of the activists. Kline is right in his stand that, regardless of the pain inflicted on animals, the alleviation of human suffering and pain is more important.
Works Cited.
“Alternative Methods.” Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. 2014. Web. 15 April,
2014.
http://hirnforschung.kyb.mpg.de/en/methods/alternative-methods.html
Howard, Carol. “Yes, Dad, There are Alternatives.” John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health. 2014. Web. 15 April, 2014.
http://caat.jhsph.edu/publications/Articles/aavs.html
Kline, Ron. “A Scientist: I am the Enemy.” Title of Collection. Ed. Editors Name(s). City of
Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range of essay. Print.