Monday, September 05, 2016

Second thoughts about torturing animals for science

John P. Gluck in the NY Times (Regretting My Animal Research):

Five years ago, the National Institutes of Health all but ended biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees, concluding that, as the closest human relative, they deserved “special consideration and respect.”

But chimpanzees were far from the only nonhuman primates used in research then, or now. About 70,000 other primates are still living their lives as research subjects in labs across the United States...

As the philosopher and bioethicist Peter Singer has noted, the descriptions of actual experiments in scientific publications and college textbooks are frequently sanitized, stripped of descriptive language, deliberately preventing the reader from getting a true picture of the emotional and physical torment inherent in the research. No matter what honorable ends you tell yourself you have in sight, if you’re finding yourself having to bowdlerize the description of your work, you are in a morally perilous place and should urgently reconsider what you’re doing...

In 1974, a federal commission was formed to develop ethical principles for human research. For nearly four years, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects in Biomedical and Behavioral Research met monthly to develop ethical principles that we rely on for human research. The principles set down in the resulting Belmont Report reflect the moral dimensions of human research that now govern this work. The report revolutionized the understanding of voluntary and informed consent, fair subject recruitment, and the importance of conducting risk-benefit analyses. No such document exists for animal research...

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