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ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN THE USE AND CARE OF LABORATORY ANIMALS

DRAGSTEDT, LESTER R. MD, PHD

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Department of Surgery, University of Chicago

“Ethical Considerations in the Use and Care of Laboratory Animals.” The Journal of Medical Education, 1960; 1:2–3.

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January 1960

… The benefits that have come to mankind as a direct result of scientific experiments on dogs are now so great and well known that every intelligent layman can be expected to be fully informed. Indeed, high school students have given a very creditable performance in this area in a series of essays on the value of animal experimentation published by the Illinois Society for Medical Research. It should be unnecessary to recall again the disappearance of smallpox, which in the 17th century was as prevalent as measles is today; the disappearance of bubonic plague, cholera, typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhus, and many other epidemic diseases. All these achievements are a direct result of knowledge obtained from experimental studies on lower animals.

… Early man secured his food and clothing by hunting, and today millions of animals are raised and slaughtered to provide food, clothing, and life-saving drugs. A constant battle is being waged with hordes of insects which threaten man's food supplies. The housewife is scarcely irreverent when she kills spiders, flies, and other vermin each day.

The great intellectual leader, Charles W. Eliot, has well said, “The humanity which would prevent human suffering is a deeper and truer humanity than the humanity which would save pain or death to animals.” It must not be overlooked that animals themselves have benefited significantly from this type of medical research. Furthermore, it is probable that the total amount of suffering which animals undergo in experimental laboratories is negligible in comparison with that which confronts most of them in the state of nature.

© 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges

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