Ethical Problems with Animal Use

The Question is: “Can They Suffer”?

Is there any justification for caging living individuals, subjecting them to suffering, and depriving them of life as nature intended?

The use of animals in research raises important ethical considerations and questions about how we treat animals in the name of science and education.

Animal welfare: Is it justifiable to cause suffering to animals for the purpose of scientific advancement? Animals in research may be subjected to procedures that cause pain, distress, or harm.

Animal rights: Do animals have inherent rights, such as the right to live their lives without being used for human benefit? Animals used in research and education aren’t given the chance to agree (or refuse) to participate.

Alternatives to animal research: Methods such as computer modeling, cell cultures, and simulations can replace or reduce the need for animal testing. Should we continue to use animals when more humane and human-relevant methods exist?

Validity and relevance: Are the results obtained from research on animals relevant and applicable to humans? Animal physiology does not accurately mimic human physiology. Because of this, studies often produce misleading results, making it questionable as to whether we should conduct research that harms animals and doesn’t help humans.

Transparency and regulation: How do we hold researchers accountable for the studies they undertake and the animals they use? Research institutions and scientists must adhere to the 3Rs principles of animal use by replacing animals whenever possible, reducing the number of animals they use, and refining their methodology to minimize animal suffering.

Thinking Young Monkey

The worst atrocity we inflict upon innocent creatures may be the act of removing them from their natural habitat and placing them in the artificial environment of a laboratory cage, with no hope of having the kind of life nature intended for them.

The Three Pillars of Ethical Research with Nonhuman Primates

In response to an increase in demand for non-human primates (NHPs) in research, NAVS has published a book, The Three Pillars of Ethical Research with Nonhuman Primates.

The book presents three foundational pillars that underpin ethical research involving NHPs: harmonization, replacement, and justice:

  • We argue for the necessity of harmonizing human and NHP research ethics, regulations, and guidelines in a way that protects all primates—human and nonhuman;
  • We call for the replacement of NHPs in research with human-biology–based methods that do not simply shift research onto other nonhuman animals; and
  • We challenge governments and scientific communities worldwide to implement justice in the selection and use of all research subjects, including NHPs.

The Three Pillars of Ethical Research with Nonhuman Primates provides a framework to reduce reliance on NHP models in science. It encourages researchers to afford NHPs additional protections and restrictions that are like those required for vulnerable humans. It asks the scientific community to replace NHP use in science with human relevant, non-animal technologies. Finally, it asks researchers to select their subjects based on demonstrable scientific need, not because the subjects are convenient to acquire or have fewer regulatory requirements or require less oversight.

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