Is it right to do animal research?

Picture of a newborn baby

Animal or human: which life is more important?

The key ethical question is whether an animal life is worth less than a human life.

Most people feel that if there are real benefits for sick people then it is worth testing a new medicine in an animal first.

Some people believe that it is wrong to make animals suffer to help human beings.

In some cases, scientists have also found that observations made in animals do not reflect those seen in humans. In these cases, it might not be worth killing animals.

picture of a fruit fly

A fruit fly

Scientists are also trying to find alternatives to using animals. Computers may be used to model how a medicine would work in a body. Also, because we share many genes and body mechanisms with bacteria, fruit flies and even frogs, some research may be conducted on these organisms rather than mammals such as rats or mice.

Replace, reduce and refine

All researchers who use animals follow three guiding principles: to replace the use of animals wherever possible, reduce the number of animals needed, and refine tests to cause the least possible distress.

Scientists who carry out experiments on animals need to satisfy legal and regulatory requirements before starting the research.

The UK has some of the strictest rules governing animal research in the world. The Animals Act, 1986, balances the needs for research with the welfare of laboratory animals. The Home Office is responsible for enforcing this law.

A number of scientists have suffered at the hands of animal rights activists. Some scientists and research institutions have received letter bombs and threats. Animal rights activists have also attacked the families of scientists and companies which supply laboratory equipment.

Did you know?

76% of the general public accept medical research using animals.

Did you know?

British law requires that any new medicine is tested in at least two different species of live animal before use in humans.

Did you know?

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986, tells researchers to use the smallest number of animals necessary, that alternative non-animal methods are preferable, and that distress to animals must be minimised.

Pro-Test What is Pro-Test's opinion on the use of animals in medical research? FRAME What is FRAME's opinion on the use of animals in medical research? About Animal Testing Find out more about research in animals.