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Stephanie's picture

animal research

I enjoyed our discussion on animal research and animal models this week.  I have worked with animals, specifically mice, during a psychology lab course at Haverford.  Working directly with animals has given me a different perspective to animal research than I would have had otherwise. For my current thesis project this year, I have chosen to not work with animals and instead work with human subjects.  Although I support using animals for some types of research (those that are worthwhile investigations, can provide important information & knowledge, and those that treat animals with respect, dignity, house & care for animals in humane and proper ways, & minimize & eliminate pain animals must experience), I personally feel more comfortable working with human subjects.  With human subjects I am able to ask for their informed consent, and also put myself through the same procedure I am asking my subjects to undergo- I personally could not conduct an experiment on others that I would not personally do myself.  

I personally feel differently about using different animals in research settings- I'm more okay with using insects (flies, worms, etc), small rodents (mice, rats, guinea pigs), & birds than using dogs, cats, primates.  I believe all the animals should be treated with respect- but I can't seem to get this animal hierarchy out of my thinking when I think about animals to use in research.  I feel "less connected" to the fly than to the dog- I think it is personal choice as to which animals people feel they can do research on- however, no matter the animal, the pain should be minimized and the animal should be treated properly and with respect because they are all living things- like us.  

I think my lab course teacher that conducts research on animals told me some interesting and important things that helped to further my thinking about animal research.  She mentioned how these animals are bred (genetically bred) just for research, they would never be alive if we didn't create them (aka we are not pulling them from the fields & forest and taking them out of their natural environment).  In addition, these animals are being given a constant supply of food & water and are housed in safe & clean places- which are definitely things they would lack in the wild- this is all these mice ever know.  For the life these animals live, I think they are comfortable for the most part- and knowing this- I feel more comfortable utilizing them for worthwhile research purposes.  However, I think it is extremely important that these lab animals are cared for in a respectful and careful manner- I am sure that some labs do not treat their animals the best- and this does bother me a lot.  As we discussed this past week, I think their is a huge need for more regulations & stricter regulations concerning animal research and welfare.  We need to keep better track of the animals being used- so we have accurate numbers- but we also need to ensure these animals are being treated properly.  I also liked the idea of creating some kind of "Scientific Code of Integrity"- maybe it could be something like an oath researcher scientists would take before graduating from programs- sort of like the oath doctors take when graduating med school.  I think a Code of Ethics or Integrity for Science is something the field is missing- some universal governing standard would be nice and is important to have.  

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