From unpleasant to unbearable: Why and how to implement an upper limit to pain and other forms of suffering in research with animals

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The focus of this paper is the requirement that the use of live animals in experiments and in vivo assays should never be allowed if those uses involve severe suffering. This requirement was first implemented in Danish legislation, was later adopted by the European Union, and has had limited uptake in North America. Animal suffering can arise from exposure to a wide range of different external and internal events that threaten biological or social functions, while the severity of suffering may be influenced by the animals’ perceptions of their own situation and the degree of control they are able to exert. Severe suffering is more than an incremental increase in negative state(s) but involves a qualitative shift whereby the normal mechanisms to contain or keep negative states at arm’s length no longer function. The result of severe suffering will be a loss of the ability of cope. The idea of putting a cap on severe suffering may be justified from multiple ethical perspectives. In most, if not all, cases it is possible to avoid imposing severe suffering on animals during experiments without giving up the potential benefits of finding new ways to cure, prevent, or alleviate serious human diseases and generate other important knowledge. From this it follows that there is a strong ethical case to favor a regulatory ban on animal experiments involving severe suffering.
Original languageEnglish
JournalILAR Journal
Number of pages11
ISSN1084-2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jan 2020

ID: 240787874