Ethics at Imperial College
Understanding Animal Research (The organisation itself)
During this workshop, we looked at animal research in the eyes of the Law. This involved understanding the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (ASPA), which was put in place in 1986 in order to conserve and protect animals from non-essential use in research such as for cosmetics or detergents. This Act also protects animals with a higher 'sentience' such as a gorilla and even the African grey parrot. Sentience is the ability to perceive and feel things- whilst humans have the highest sentience and fireflies have the lowest of sentience. We further investigated which proposals from different industries the Animal Research Ethical Review Body (AWERB) would accept and which would be rejected. They were sorted based on which animal it was - is it an animal with a high sentience - such as a chimpanzee? Could they use an animal with a lower sentience such as a firefly? Why? Why not? After this, the case study is analysed and classified based on 3 R's: Replace- is the animal endangered? Can it be replaced? Reduce- are you reducing the size of the group of living organisms as much as possible? Will it be reducing the harm overall for all living organisms (including humans) on a global scale? Lastly, has the proposal been 'Refined'? Have the procedures been refined so that the animals suffer as little as possible?
By truly understanding animal research, I believe that it can make a difference for all the lives of all living organisms. Animal research is for the greater good of humanity as not only can it save millions of lives and prevent epidemics as we learn and understand how life works, how our world works, how all living organisms are interdependent and no species alone can survive. We may be more interdependent than we think. Only because we don't know enough yet and only through safely carrying our animal research (as harmlessly as possible) and where needed will we be able to delve into a new world where we can learn to communicate with animals, give them their rightful, deserved rights and therefore carrying out animal research no more. This will only take place once we have obtained the precious gift of understanding and appreciating the world and all that is in it.