For close to a decade, I worked as a federal regulator, inspecting experiments involving non-human animals (hereinafter referred to as animals) in Germany. Because I had always been skeptical about the ethical and most of the scientific justifications given for conducting invasive research on animals, I felt that as a veterinarian I should work within the current system to scrutinize these practices and help improve the lives of individual animals used in the name of science. By inspecting numerous animal laboratories and breeding facilities, and assessing countless animal research proposals and their scientific outcomes (if they were published), I became exceedingly aware of the considerable harms involved and the flaws of animal-based research on all levels—ethical, scientific, legal, political, and economic.
Alongside my work as an inspector, I carried out a PhD project, assessing the use of refinement, the last R of the 3Rs principles, in practice. Refinement refers to methods that ought to reduce animal suffering in the laboratory. I focused on experimental refinements in over 500 animal research applications comprising recovery surgical procedures from around Germany. My results show that the majority of evaluated proposals did not take all possible measures to avoid needless suffering. They confirm the trends found in structured and systematic reviews of published animal studies from around the world. Being a member of the competent authority, I frequently experienced its limits in safeguarding animals due to the way it is set up: decentralized, understaffed, and with limited resources.
Consequently, the political aims of reducing and replacing animals in science have remained political claims; and authorities are unequipped to ensure that only research projects that have a realistic potential to produce benefits, which outweigh the harms inflicted on the animals, are granted licenses. The poor application of refinement methods in laboratories, and a malfunctioning regulatory body emphasized, for me, the urgency for a paradigm change, away from using animals in science. Fortunately, in some areas this change is already slowly happening. But to accelerate the shift, it is crucial to appraise animal experimentation critically, from all angles, and to publicly discuss the findings—a realization that led me to initiate this book project. The 51 experts who contributed to this volume critically appraise current animal use in science, and they discuss innovative, human-relevant approaches to advance the life sciences and to accelerate the shift towards the replacement of animals in research, testing and education.
– Kathrin Herrmann
I now work as a Senior Scientific Researcher for an animal protection organization that promotes phasing out animal use in these industries, particularly in the areas of animals used in research, education, and entertainment. The study of the behavior of all animals is fascinating; but only when the animals can express their natural behavioral repertoire, under natural conditions. I truly believe that furthering our understanding of wild animal behavior through non-intrusive means can help those campaigning and lobbying for greater animal protection, by enhancing appreciation for all species. Through generating more public support and using indisputable scientific rationale, which cannot be ignored, governments and policy makers can be influenced to make progress towards ending the use of animals in these environments.
– Kimberley Jayne
We first met back in 2014, at the University of Exeter, during a workshop that aimed to introduce perspectives from the humanities and social sciences to a dialogue with practitioners and stakeholders across laboratory animal science and welfare. Our mutual concerns about animals used in science led us to collaborate on this book project. Since we both work closely with researchers, scholars, and campaigners, who are active in the fields of animal protection, animal replacement technology, and ethical philosophy, the project rapidly evolved into a 28 chapter-volume. Our aim is to not only transform science, education, and policy into a more inclusive environment, but to continue to work on projects that consider the impact of human behavior on all species.
This book may be eye-opening for some and encouraging for others. Its ultimate goal is to motivate everyone to work together in order to end the suffering of our fellow animals.
– Kathrin Herrmann and Kimberley Jayne
Baltimore and London, August 2018