Animals’ rights in Biomedical research

Abdolhasan Kazemi, Naser Razmaraee, Bahram Samadi Rad



This article reviews recent literature on dogmatic issues of animal rights in research fields, focusing primarily on previous and current concept of animal rights in medical research.The ethics of animal-based medical research is a continuing area of debate that has a complex overlap with law, social opinions, NGOs ideas, but mainly ethical research protocols do not create crucial limitation to scientist in lab and research fields.

Basically there is wide and albeit beneficial need for informed consideration and interchanges between the ethicists, scientists and researchers, policymakers, lawyers, NGOs and the public in general to come to consensus regarding the issues discussed about animal rights and welfares in medical research fields.

Current animal experimentation and use of animals as clinical and laboratory models were established by Bernard Claude who described: "An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine" in 1865. At this stage, the public opinions were already asking that the welfare, pain and distress of experimental animals during medical research be reduced. In 1959, two scientists, William Russell and Rex Burch projected the philosophy and doctrine of alternatives to animal experimentation as clinical models, the "3Rs". Since these two scientist doctrine time, animal rights and welfare campaigners have promoted the 3Rs concept in biomedical research communities and environments. Despite this accepted doctrine, spiteful animal experiments have continued and there are reports of radical and cure extremists showing their opposition by invasion, arson, theft and even bombing of institutions involved, resulting in killing of the animals that has been called “live slaughtering”. SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), one radical group supposed to be animal welfare supporters was recognized as a terrorist band in USA and the police inspected their activities extremely. In 2001, British animal radicalists attacked Japanese universities and stole laboratory equipments and resources; one individual was detained and sentenced to jail; Japanese who assisted in the incident were arrested and also one was sentenced to jail. In 2006, SHAC group in USA were arrested and sentenced to jail for their terrorism behaviors and activities including arson.

Recently, the animal welfare law world widely was revised during last decade stressing the importance of 3Rs in scientific activities with animals. The outcome of these activities particularly 3Rs could be a better experimental design, on both ethical and scientific grounds in medical research areas. It is worth noted that beside 3Rs some other active NGOs about animal rights have been postulated that: “an animal's welfare should be governed by five freedoms, namely, freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress”.


Animal rights; Research and lab experiments; Ethical Codes

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