Intended for healthcare professionals


Animal research: the need for a middle ground

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 03 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:248

Let's promote the three Rs of animal research: replacement, reduction, and refinement

  1. Richard Smith, editor
  1. BMJ

    Many countries, including Britain, suffer from grossly oversimplified debates on important issues like drugs, crime and punishment, genetically modified foods, and animal research. Are you for or against? Sign here. Yet none of these issues is moved forward by such polarised arguments. The British debate on animal research currently features people in balaclavas using every tactic, including illegal and violent ones, to close down animal research institutes pitted against intimidated scientists arguing that no progress can be made in treating serious human diseases without animal research. We need more understanding of the complexities of animal research and a greater concentration on where we agree.

    Can any of us imagine a world where animals were not used for food, clothing, or transport, where we had no pets, where rats and other vermin were not controlled, and where an ape, or even a fly, was regarded as the moral equal of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Most of us can't, and many people in Britain accept the need for some animal research.1 Yet most of us would not tolerate a world where animals had no rights and could be exploited for whatever cause. We thus have to find some middle …

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