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kbrown's picture

Hi guys,   I wasn't

Hi guys,

  I wasn't able to make it to class last Tuesday, but from reading the postings so far and the assigned articles it sounded like there was a pretty intriguing discussion about the use of animal models in pyschological and biological laboratories.  Being in a thesis group which uses animals, lab mice specifcally, to carry out our experiment, the ethics surrounding the use of animals is something that I have been confronted with on a fairly regular basis, especially because the nature of our study involves inducing pain.  To be completely honest, I still do not have my feelings on the matter completely pinned down.  I obviously, like I'm sure most others in the class, feel that it is valid to use animals in many laboratory situations such as in exploration and treatment of various human diseases (cancer, AIDS etc)  I thought it was interesting, however, that in one of the articles (and it would seem to me in a good part of most of the articles advocating for the use of animals in research) these types of projects were used too vehemently as a reason to continue all types of animal research.  I think, and I think this was mentioned earlier, that if people are going to make a case for continuing animal research they would almost do better to steer clear of the obvious and instead focus on why other uses of animals in research, especially on the psychological end, where we are attempting to figure out why for instance a specific behavior occurs instead of curing an epidemic, are valid. 

I personally do not have an answer to this question, and I agree with Stephanie that there are pretty widespread differing views on the use of animals depending on whether the animal used is a mouse or a primate.  However, in the end I think that the rules for humane lab protocol shouldnt differ among different species, and in fact, I think this might be a good way of understanding what is humane in lower animals such as mice, by asking ourselves whether we would perform the same procedure on an animal we are perhaps more sympathetic towards such as a primate.

That said, I think one thing that is perhaps neglected at least in theory with respect to the use of animals versus the use of humans is the idea of compensation.  When we use humans in studies, we almost always have to present some type of compensation for their time, whether it be credit for a class or monetary compensation.  I wonder sometimes why it is that animals are not afforded the same type of compensation.  Some may argue that as we are the only caretakers of these animals, and that therefore our feeding, sheltering, and general maintainance of these animals is the compensation that they get for participating in our studies.  However, I would say that compensation, as it is for humans, goes above the "basic necessities" of life, and that therefore the compensation for our animal counterparts should be likewise a reward and not a requirement.  This is really at the crux of why I have very little if no problem with animal research carried out in veterinary programs, as they are eventually benefiting the animal kingdom, and therefore I think provide some type of compensation, if not to the individual animal, to their species, for their participation.  I do still, however, feel some disconnect when it comes to using animals for human-only purposes. 



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