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Animal experiments are widely used to develop new medicines and to test the safety of other products. Many of these experiments cause pain to the animals involved or reduce their quality of life in other ways. If it is morally wrong to cause animals to suffer then experimenting on animals produces serious moral problems.

The equivalent case against is that the level of suffering and the number of animals involved are both so high that the benefits to humanity don’t provide moral justification.

The three R’s are a set of principles that scientists are encouraged to follow in order to reduce the impact of research on animals.

The three R’s are Reduction, Refinement, Replacement.


Reducing the number of animals used in experiments by:

1. Improving experimental techniques

2. Improving techniques of data analysis

3. Sharing information with other researchers


Refining the experiment or the way the animals are cared for so as to reduce their suffering by:

1. Using less invasive techniques

2. Better medical care

3. Better living conditions


Replacing experiments on animals with alternative techniques such as:

1. Experimenting with cell cultures instead of whole animals

2. Using computer models

3. Studying human volunteers

4. Using epidemiological studies

The Animal Welfare Act is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals that are intended for research, bred for commercial sale, exhibited to the public or commercially transported. Under the AWA, businesses and others with animals covered by the law must be licensed or registered, and they must adhere to minimum standards of care. Farm animals are among those not covered by the act.