Today, more than 100 million nonhuman animals (animals) are used in research each year around the world. Although this is a staggering number, it really is a very conservative estimate. Experiments involving animals entail harms from the time animals are bred to the time they are killed. Like humans, animals suffer physically and emotionally.
Recently there have been some significant changes in animal research policy in the United States. Last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) adopted demanding principles and rules about the use of chimpanzees in research -- almost all chimpanzees used in federally sponsored research will be phased out of research in the United States. This shift in federal policy also opened the door to consider how other animals are treated in research and what can be done to make their lives better. Indeed, there is a lot of room for major improvements in all aspects of animal research.
A new collection of essays titled "Rethinking the ethics of research involving nonhuman animals" published in the prestigious journal Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics has responded to this opportunity. This novel collection of articles, edited by Georgetown University's Tom Beauchamp, PhD, Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, and John Gluck, PhD, challenges traditional notions about the use of animals in research. In these essays authors explore how major concepts used in human research can be applied to decisions about the use of animals in research.