It has been an issue in scientific research for years and years, yet it does not seem to get old. And it should not. Animal welfare and ethics in animal testing. This week the FENS (Federation of the European Neuroscience Societies), the JNS (Japan Neuroscience Society), and the SfN (Society for Neuroscience) have signed a document that addresses this topic once again.
As it remains a controversial subject these major neuroscience societies have taken the opportunity to stress the importance of neuroscientists worldwide to keep explaining why animal testing is so vital for the advancement of basic and translational neuroscience. In other words, animals are irreplaceable in research on neurological and psychiatric diseases. It is all about the appropriate balance between the quality of science and animal welfare.
These societies strongly advocate the responsible use of animals. Maximize scientific gain with the least possible amount of animal suffering and keep striving to replace and reduce the number of animals and refine experiments where possible. It is not an earth shattering statement, nor is it very new. Still it is important that neuroscientists collectively send out the message that they value animal welfare. Not in the least part because animals (and their welfare) are so vital for the quality of biomedical research.
A second point the FENS, JNS, and SfN address in their statement is research obstruction. The harassment, violence, and intimidation by animal rights extremist that is put upon researchers, their families, and associated businesses is unacceptable. Again, no groundbreaking proclamation, but it is nonetheless important to keep repeating this message as a collective. Create public awareness for this kind of very personal and intimidating form of aggression as much as there is a growing awareness for animal welfare.
Noldus Information Technology supports these societies in their statement. Our mission includes “Optimal use of animal resources”, stating that our technology is designed in such a way that behavioral measurements can take place under animal-friendly circumstances. Continuous monitoring and automated tracking of movement and behavior maximizes the amount of information that can be collected per animal. This way we contribute to the refinement of tests and the reduction of the number of laboratory animals used.
Like these societies state, we also value freedom of speech, but do not condone the violent behavior as it is shown towards some researchers, their families, and the companies they work for.
You can read the collective statement from the FENS, JNS, and SfN at: http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=joint_statement