What We Don't Know About Lab Animals

Scientists and members of the public have been drawn increasingly into a serious debate over the use of animals in research and teaching. At the' core of this interchange is the moral justification for animal use, as well as the quality of life for animals in laboratory environments. The latter point, quality of life, is important to all scientists-for practical as well as humane reasons. Animals in distress can confound research outcomes. Primatologists are particularly concerned with this issu

Melinda Novak
Nov 16, 1986

Scientists and members of the public have been drawn increasingly into a serious debate over the use of animals in research and teaching. At the' core of this interchange is the moral justification for animal use, as well as the quality of life for animals in laboratory environments.

The latter point, quality of life, is important to all scientists-for practical as well as humane reasons. Animals in distress can confound research outcomes. Primatologists are particularly concerned with this issue in light of new federal regulations requiring re searchers to address the "psychological well-being" of captively housed primates. While the overall intent of the new regulations is laudable-we must perceive our subjects as living organisms and not as mere research tools-their implementation at present is fraught with difficulty.

After all, what is quality of life? How do we define and measure psychological well-being in nonhuman primates, particularly when psychologists and psychiatrists...

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