Thursday, November 10, 2011

Animal Scientific Research

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The "Three R’s" approach of replacing, reducing, and refining animal use in scientific research is recommended by the Humane Society of the United States. Our lab should adopt this approach as well. First, we should replace our animal experiments with those that take advantage of alternative methods like computer modeling, controlled human studies, or tissue studies. Chemicals that need to be screened for toxicity, for example, could be tested on living tissue samples instead of live animals. Second, we should reduce the number of animals used in our experiments. It seems excessive to use hundreds of animals when a few dozen might suffice. This is especially so if the experiments are those that cause pain and suffering. Finally, we should refine the experiments so that animal distress is kept to a minimum. Some of our experiments, especially toxicology tests, cause the animals to suffer for days, if not weeks, before we euthanize them. I realize that is because we cannot use anesthesia for those test subjects, but perhaps we can try to shorten the number of days they must suffer before they die.

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