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K. Smythe's picture

Animal models

            The use of lab animals is always something I personally think a lot about.  I’m not sure how I feel about sacrificing animals so carelessly.  On one hand, furthering research is important and could save many, many, human lives later on, but I guess my concern is with the way we treat lab animals as disposable resources.  I don’t think that I feel any better that some organisms are bred expressly for the purpose of research.  In the end often the lives of these animals are simply very expendable to us.  I do believe that sometimes sacrificing animals toward science is appropriate, however it is worrisome that we don’t have any means of monitoring the number of animals that are sacrificed, or what they are sacrificed for.

            I also don’t know how I feel about simply moving our research down the evolutionary line.  People seem to be more comfortable with research done on animals that are less “human-like”.  I’m not sure that I see it as any more or less appropriate to sacrifice animals based on their likeness to humans.  Either way it is still a life of an organism that we can only subjectively think about-we don’t actually know what (or if) these animals feel, experience or think.  For this reason I’m not sure that I’m more comfortable with sacrificing fish over cats for example.

            On an entirely different note, the idea of a code of ethics or integrity for scientists is a very interesting concept.  It’s interesting that this is something I’ve never thought about/has never been brought up before to me.  It seems important that since we are working with lives and although not directly with human lives for research, our research will eventually affect human lives, maybe more directly than we think in terms of drug research.  For a lot of reasons a code of conduct seems like a good idea, however I would have no idea who would draft it or how to begin drafting one myself.  I think it would be important to have “lay people” on whatever committee was creating such a document because often scientists become jaded, or forgetful regarding the lives of animals in research.  Because of the frequency with which research is completed using animal models it is easy to forget that one is indeed killing a living, breathing, arguably thinking and feeling organism. 

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