Ethical Issues of Non-human Research

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The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

  • Animal research must only take place in licensed labs, with licensed researches and projects.
  • Researchers must consider whether knowledge gained from research justifies any harm or distress to animals.
  • No research containing non-human animals can take place unless a lincence has been granted by the Home Office.
  • The Home Office is committed to following the 3R's:
    1: Refine the experimental procedures to minimise suffering.
    2: Reduce the number of animals to a minimum.
    3: Replace animal research with alternatives when possible.
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The British Psychological Society (BPS)

The BPS produces a code of conduct for psychologists using non-human animals. The main points are:
- Psychologists must conform to current legislation.
- Species must be suited to research purposes.
- Psychologists must be aware of the animals' previous experience.
- Smallest number of animals must be used.
- Any procedure that may cause pain should be evaluated and replaced if possible.
- Regulation of food intake may be considered harmful and researchers must consider an animal's normal food intake and metabolic requirements.

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The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

Developed Bateson's decision cube to evaluate research using animals. It is based on three criteria:
- Quality of the research: research funding should only be given to animal research of the highest quality.
- Degree of animal suffering: it is difficult to empathise with animals and assess their suffering. We need to become more aware of a species by increasing knowledge of how animals behave.
- Certainty of benefit: do the ends justify the means? It is difficult to predict exactly what the benefits are to the lives of animals.

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