Jim Meehan

The Stressful Life of Laboratory Animals

Evidence is accumulating that the majority of mammalian research animals, particularly rodents, are mentally stressed by their living conditions. This is not only inhumane, but also can seriously affect research outcomes and compromise scientists' data.

Research on animals is performed to gain more knowledge about diseases and how to cure them, and to evaluate drugs for toxicity before testing them on humans. In fact, animal studies have played a vital role in almost every major medical advance.

Although researchers are committed to finding new ways to reduce and replace animal testing, current technology cannot yet replace many types of animal research. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics estimates that between 50 and 100 million animals, from flies to monkeys, are euthanized for research each year worldwide, with roughly 90% of the vertebrate animals used for research being rodents.

Gaining useful knowledge from animal research requires robust experimental findings: different scientists should be able to reproduce them in different locations. This requires a thorough understanding of each animal species and its biology.

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