Public health, medicine and vaccines are a hot topic, especially during this pandemic – still ongoing – as I write this post. Is there a vaccine for COVID-19, when, what and how? Science is ever evolving which is a wonderful thing. As long as there is enough funding researchers look for cures for HIV and cancer treatments. They look to better already existent medicine, try to minimize their side-effects and so on. To do this, to serve the public health of us humans, they sometimes use animals. I’ve written a few times about experiments were mice (they are so popular in that field) were served electric shocks, were observed, put on cocaine and all sorts of things. They do suffer. Animals suffer for the greater good. Ideally that is …
Researchers don’t put animals in those conditions for fun. There are guidelines in place since 1959 in the book ‘The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique‘. The three Rs – that are still followed till this day – are described as such:
- replace animals with new technologies
- reduce the number of animals used in experiments
- refine lab protocols to minimize animal suffering
Some voices are now raising to tell us that those rules are no longer sufficient. What isn’t done today is to ask some very important questions before conducting an experiment with animals. There are no limits on the suffering and also no limits in how many animals can be used. Questions as ‘Is using an animal the last possible option?’ or ‘Is this research very much needed?’ aren’t being asked. The same voices plead that scientist would need to prove that animal testing is needed and that there isn’t another option available. This could benefit animals but could slow science down. What do you think, are extra regulations needed?
If we would agree on a more ethical approach with less suffering, can there be exceptions to those rules? Can we use animals with a clear conscience when we need them in case of a pandemic? Can suffering of animals be compared with the possible benefit for humans?
If exceptions can be made, would animals benefit from a protocol of how they are treated when ‘off duty?’ Can the mice run around and so on.
I know that many make up is being tested on animals but that there are also brands who don’t do that. By educating yourself, you can ‘vote’ with your wallet. In regards to medication that is a whole other ballgame. Is believe that everything is first tested on animals (in a later stage on humans) and that there is no vegan medication out there.
It seems to me that we are ‘obsessed’ by using lab mice to conduct research. It has become a second nature. When I read up about how our memory works, I found out that mice are good for research but that the result aren’t easily transferred onto humans. Did we become overzealous here?
I know that I asked a lot of questions in this post, but I would like to end with one more: Is it possible that we all benefit from changes in science? Or is this not even a topic that you are concerned about? Over to you in the comments please.
Notes and references.
More info about the Beagle-experiments, click here. Warning, it is disturbing to read.
Grimm, D. (2020). Is it time to replace one of the cornerstones of animal research?
DeGrazia, Beauchamp. (2019). Beyond the 3 Rs to a More Comprehensive Framework of Principles for Animal Research Ethics
Picture credits first picture click here.