Biomedical research

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Ethics

In this section you find ethical aspects being laid up in research proposals involving animal use.

 

Harm versus benefit

The case for animal experiments is that they will produce such great benefits for humanity that it is morally acceptable to harm a few animals.

The equivalent case against is that the level of suffering and the number of animals involved are both so high that the benefits to humanity don't provide moral justification.

 

The three Rs

The three Rs are a set of principles that scientists are encouraged to follow in order to reduce the impact of research on animals. The three Rs are: Reduction, Refinement, Replacement.

Reduction: Reducing the number of animals used in experiments by:

  • Improving experimental techniques
  • Improving techniques of data analysis
  • Sharing information with other researchers

Refinement: Refining the experiment or the way the animals are cared for so as to reduce their suffering by:

  • Using less invasive techniques
  • Better medical care
  • Better living conditions

Replacement: Replacing experiments on animals with alternative techniques such as:

  • Experimenting on cell cultures instead of whole animals
  • Using computer models
  • Studying human volunteers
  • Using epidemiological studies

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