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Rights And Wrongs

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Understanding how science works means thinking about scientific ethics or 'rights and wrongs'. Animal research is one area of science where many people disagree about what is right and what is wrong and why.

For every animal used to test a medicine 15 people are used.

More than 77% of research animals are rats and mice.

It takes about 15 years to develop a new medicine.

Just about every medicine that you have ever used has been tested on animals.

The law says you can't use a research animal if there is any alternative.

No chimpanzees, gorillas or other great apes can be used in research (except for human beings, of course).

No animals can be used to test cosmetics in the UK.

The government has to approve every experiment using animals in the UK.

All research animals are looked after by a trained vet who is available 24/7.

Animal research facilities are inspected on average every month. The inspectors can go anywhere and arrive without warning.

The number of animals used for research has fallen by about a third since 1970.

Three licences are needed for every animal experiment.

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The mighty mouse

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Which animal is used more than any other in medical research?

Which animal is used more than any other in medical research?

Which animal is used more than any other in medical research?

Which of these creatures helped scientists uncover some human sex secrets?

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Animal research is cruel - Animal research saves lives

We have all benefited from animal research. Almost every medicine you have ever taken was developed using animals.

But that doesn't mean it is always right to use animals. So what are the arguments for and against?

Thousands of animals are suffering so that scientists can test lipstick, eye shadow and other cosmetics. - Ok, animal testing for cosmetics might be wrong, but it has been completely banned in the UK for more than 10 years.
Animals are too different from us for research to be scientifically useful. They don't suffer from the same diseases. - Animals may look different from us but actually all mammals are more or less the same on the inside and we share many diseases.
But even if animal experiments are scientific they are still cruel and we shouldn't benefit from cruelty. - Scientists are like you and me. They don't want to hurt animals. And they know that less stress in an animal means better results.
Most animal procedures are very mild like this one. Even procedures like giving a mouse cancer cells will not usually hurt it, because the early stages of cancer are painless. - When a blood sample is taken the rat just feels a pin prick in its tail. This is a typical animal procedure.
But animal laboratories are secret, we don't know what goes on there! - The UK Home Office publishes information about all animal procedures every year. And every animal unit is inspected on average once a month.
But we don't need animals. We can use computers and other alternatives instead! - We can learn a lot from computers and cell cultures, but we need to use animals too. Whole creatures are very complex . What works in a test tube, may not work in a living body.
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