Introduction

Legislative reforms around the world have insufficiently improved the protection of non-human animals (hereinafter referred to as animals). Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes appears rather radical when compared to legislation in other countries. The Directive promotes a paradigm change in articulating the ultimate goal of the “full replacement of procedures on live animals for scientific and educational purposes as soon as it is scientifically possible” (Recital 10). Building on this principal vision of Directive 2010/63/EU, this book aims to illustrate the current situation for animals used in research, testing, and education and to give a future glimpse of what the end of their use may look like. Aside from exploring current ethical challenges, scientific controversies and economic and legal aspects related to animal experimentation, this book discusses ways in which individuals, researchers, regulators, industry, and governments can all contribute to a paradigm change. It includes invited contributions from a range of multidisciplinary scholars, across many fields, who share a vision for how a shift in current thinking can be achieved and how the end of animal experiments can be accelerated. While some argue that full and immediate abolishment of animal use is necessary to encourage science in the direction of human-focused research, others discuss their vision in terms of incremental steps towards the shared goal of total animal replacement. With the intention of encompassing all animal use, this book considers the vision of a paradigm shift at an international level, with the goal to find solutions for this pressing problem that are motivated by a culture of compassion for all animals.

The book starts out with a foreword by Peter Singer who has advocated for the equality of human and other animal interests for several decades. The first half of this book (Chapters 1–13) describes current debates surrounding the issues of using animals in science:

  1. The first section focuses on why and how to change the current paradigm. Chapter 1 starts out from the last of the 3Rs, refinement, and its flawed application in practice. Chapters 2 and 3 address how to incorporate methods into the current system to prompt a move away from animal models. Chapter 4 presents information on how people can engage in a paradigm shift at an individual level, by adopting a disease preventing lifestyle.
  2. Section 2, which focuses on politics and legislation in animal experimentation, starts with a chapter on the importance of political campaigning (Chapter 5), followed by a critique of how the 3R principles are applied by people working in animal research (Chapter 6). Chapter 7 reveals how having a political critique is of utmost importance.
  3. Section 3 debates the lack of transparency over animals used for experimentation, from the stakeholder perspectives of the animals (Chapter 8) and animal protection groups (Chapter 9). Chapter 10 illustrates how public funding is misappropriated for animal research.
  4. Section 4 discusses the ethics of using sentient individuals without their consent, including how humans decide upon their respective fates (Chapters 11 and 12) and their political objectification (Chapter 13).

The second half of the book (Chapters 14–28) analyzes the current practice of using animals as scientific models, as well as already available animal-free models:

  1. Section 5 begins with an overview of the lack of predictivity of animal models over the history of their use (Chapter 14). Chapters 15 and 16 review animal-derived research and its translation to human medical research. Chapter 17 assesses the effectiveness of animal-based models for drug testing and disease modeling. Chapter 18 expands on how animal-based tests are harmful for humans. Chapter 19 reviews the significant increase in use of genetically altered animals, and the impact of this on human-disease modeling. The section concludes with two chapters focusing on the scientific and ethical concerns within specific areas of animal research, namely Alzheimer’s Disease (Chapter 20) and behavioral research (Chapter 21).
  2. Section 6 shows how the future of animal-free research starts with humane education and training for the next generation of researchers who have the potential to change the direction that science takes. Chapter 22 focuses on alternatives available for replacing animals used in biomedical and trauma training, while Chapter 23 presents an example of how humane education has been implemented.
  3. The final section shows how the paradigm is already shifting, commencing with recent developments in animal-free test methods (Chapter 24). Chapter 25 exemplifies how in vitro and in silico methods are already being used in certain areas of research. Chapter 26 presents the emerging organ on a chip technology, its enormous future potential and its current limitations. Chapter 27 critically highlights the need to remain cautious about hidden animal use in replacement technologies, followed by the final Chapter 28, which gives an outlook on the future of cruelty-free science and the great promise it holds for animals and humans alike.

The book closes with an afterword by John Gluck, who shifted from being a primate researcher to becoming a strong advocate for animals. Owing to the range of topics and the various backgrounds of our contributing authors, this volume is intended for a wide prospective readership, offering a broad scope into the key debates around the use of animals for experiments and education. It is written not only for fellow scholars and scientists, but for the interested public.

We are hopeful that this book will help to accelerate the already shifting paradigm. Six decades after Russell and Burch published their, at the time, progressive ideas in the book “Principles of Humane Experimental Technique”, on how to make science humane and rigorous, the time has come where it is impossible to ignore the facts: the flaws and shortcomings of the animal research industry are evident, and the continued use of animal models is ethically and scientifically less justifiable than ever before. This industry wastes intellectual, scientific, and financial resources and causes harms not just to animals but also to humans. With experiments on animals frequently showing little to no benefit to the human species and, therefore, hindering the development of treatments, and with costs borne by the animals used, we should finally accept the irreconcilable species differences. It is time to focus solely on robust, human-relevant approaches, such as in silico and in vitro models, to conduct human-focused science. For us to continue to evolve ethically as a species, we need to stop causing further needless suffering and start generating a culture of respect and compassion for all animals.

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.

albert schweitzer
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