The scientific exploration of human physiology has long given rise to ethical concerns. History shows that several medical researchers have overstepped the boundaries of moral decency by sacrificing human lives in the pursuit of effective medical treatments. For example, it is certainly not unprecedented for medical researchers to purposely infect healthy study participants with certain diseases solely to test the efficacy of certain drugs. The Tuskegee experiments are probably the most well known studies of this kind. In order to ensure that human lives are not harmed in the pursuit of medical knowledge, researchers use certain animals as models in medical experiments. Rats and mice, for example, are commonly used as models in medical experiments since their physiological processes are largely analogous to a humans. However, even mice and rats can suffer as a result of medical experimentation. This is why more primitive lifeforms are sought as models in medical studies. Luckily fruit flies, despite their relative physiological simplicity, have many physical attributes in common with humans. Although fruit flies are useful in medical research, very few people are aware that grasshoppers have even more in common with humans when it comes to physiological functioning.
Researchers have only understood how physiologically similar grasshoppers are to humans for around 50 years, and to this day, nobody really understands why these distantly related animals share so many physiological attributes in common. Grasshoppers have been successfully used in experiments that test how humans are affected by psychoactive drugs. The central nervous system of grasshoppers and humans is similar enough that the two act out similar behavioral side-effects in response to psychoactive drug consumption. In fact, grasshoppers are even useful for understanding how the cardiopulmonary functioning of humans can be affected by psychoactive drug intake. Thousands of pre-med students have learned about the process of cell division in humans by observing how this process occurs in grasshoppers. Grasshoppers have also proven useful for determining which substances act as carcinogens in the human body. In some respects, grasshoppers may be the most useful stand-ins for humans in studies that aim to determine how abnormal cell division occurs in response to certain environmental toxins.
Do you believe that there exists an ethical line that cannot be crossed when it comes to medical experiments on insects?