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July 15, 2009

Statement on Animals in Biomedical Research, Testing, and Education

Biomedical research and testing

As do most scientists, The HSUS advocates an end to the use of animals in research and testing that is harmful to the animals. Accordingly, we strive to decrease and eventually eliminate harm to animals used for these purposes. Our concern encompasses all aspects of laboratory animal use, including their housing and care.

We carry out our work on behalf of animals used and kept in laboratories primarily by promoting research methods that have the potential to replace or reduce animal use or refine animal use so that the animals experience less suffering or physical harm. Replacement, reduction, and refinement are known as the Three Rs or alternative methods. The Three Rs approach, rigorously applied, will benefit both animal welfare and biomedical progress.

Certain species, such as chimpanzees and other apes, cannot be kept humanely in laboratory caging and should not be used in harmful research given their highly evolved mental, emotional, and social features and their concomitant vulnerability to suffering from living in captivity in research settings. Consequently, we place high priority on these species being phased out of harmful research and being relocated to appropriate sanctuary facilities.

Animal use in elementary, high school, and college education

Students should be provided an education that instills an interest in and respect for all living things. These are objectives best fulfilled by providing an education that emphasizes animals as living, sentient creatures who share the environment with humans.

The HSUS opposes the use of animals in elementary or high school lessons, experiments, science fair competitions, or other projects that directly or indirectly cause death, pain, or distress to animals. Dissection is unnecessary and unacceptable in pre-college biology education, being inconsistent with the development of a respect for life and an appreciation of the sentience of living organisms.

In postsecondary education, the use of dissection should be limited to the study of ethically sourced cadavers. In professional education (e.g., for veterinary, medical, and biological careers), any use of animals should be consistent with an active implementation of the Three Rs (reduction, refinement, or replacement of animal use).

Cloning

The Humane Society of the United States opposes any cloning of animals for commercial purposes, whether for use as pets or in research or agriculture. Animal cloning is a destructive, needless, and often frivolous enterprise. Cloning is a highly experimental procedure, with an enormous number of failures. Most cloned animals die in gestation or at birth. The relatively few survivors often suffer physical abnormalities, severe and chronic pain, and other serious conditions.

Cloning experiments reflect a spirit common to all systematic forms of cruelty to animals. Such experiments reveal a recklessness and hubris, rejecting the prior claims of nature and the inherent dignity of animal life. They treat animals as commodities alone, instead of as living individuals with needs and natures of their own. They are a betrayal of decent animal husbandry, sacrificing the interests and well being of the animals in a quest for notoriety or profit.

The commercial cloning of animals is an abuse of humanity's power over the animal world. And, like all abuses of power, it should be prohibited by law.

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