Thoughts from SAO on the current state of animal use in biomedical research.
The erroneous but entrenched belief that animal models are acceptable and adequate for teaching surgical skills is one of the greatest barriers to transitioning away from using them in medical training. The goal of surgical simulation training is to use the most human-relevant models available to provide trainees with the optimal opportunity to transfer acquired skills to the operating room.
Cephalopods, including octopuses and cuttlefish, exhibit remarkable cognitive abilities, demonstrating traits such as problem-solving, tool use, and even delayed gratification, which is viewed as a manifestation of intelligence in animals.
In our work to modernize science policy within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to better support the use and uptake of non-animal research methods (also known as “new approach methodologies” or “NAMs”), the Science Advancement & Outreach (SAO) division repeatedly responds to NIH’s requests for information on these issues and sends letters to the agency’s leaders with our recommendations.
Untreated or mistreated pain in laboratory animals raises significant scientific and ethical concerns in biomedical research. International animal welfare laws and guidelines have been established to minimize pain in animals, but adequate pain relief is often withheld from laboratory animals.
Later this month, PETA’s Science Advancement & Outreach (SAO) division and some of our colleagues will be taking over Canada. Well, we’ll have a notable presence at the 12th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Niagara Falls, Canada, that is!
In 2021, a flurry of articles reporting on the transplantation of pigs’ organs into humans asked whether using animals as spare parts reservoirs could solve the organ shortage. But this line of thinking is as unnecessary as it is unethical and unsafe.
Studying animals in a setting closer to their natural environment may make the results more applicable to animals in nature, but it won’t help overcome the inherent and fundamental differences between species, poor internal and construct validity, and poor replicability that are so common in experiments on animals.
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) mission is “to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.” Unfortunately, NIH seems to be so focused on the first part of its mission that it has lost sight of the second.
In late 2022, Congress passed the FDA Modernization Act 2.0—a bill introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), put forth in the House of Representatives by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and signed into law by President Joe Biden—ending a 1938 mandate that experiments on animals be used to assess the safety and efficacy of new drugs.
PETA’s Research Modernization Deal (RMD) is the first comprehensive plan for phasing out the use of animals in experimentation. Originally released in 2018, it has recently been revised and updated to reflect the latest scientific developments and regulatory changes.
The pressure to publish in academia has put biomedical research into a full-blown crisis. A system that promotes, publishes, and rewards only positive results leads to sloppy experimental designs, rushed data collection and analysis, reliance on outdated methods, image manipulation in scientific papers, and, in some cases, outright research fraud.