People clearly want the benefits that derive from animal research. They also want animals to be well-treated and to undergo a minimum of pain and distress. These desires result from our values, from the importance we ascribe to both human and animal life.
But decisions about the use of animals should be based both on reason and values. It makes no sense to sacrifice future human health and well being by not using animals in research today. In fact, it would be immoral and selfish not to use animals in research today, given the harm that could accrue to future generations if such research were halted.
The majority of Americans agree that animal research must continue. But legislators rarely hear from this majority, whereas they are bombarded by appeals from the small minority who wish to stop or severely curtail such research. Many scientific, medical, and patient groups have come out strongly in favor of humanely conducted animal research. The National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine would like to add their voices to the chorus of support for animal research.
We owe our good health to past investigators and the animals they studied. As we decide on the future of animal research, we should keep in mind the future generations who will look back at us and ask if we acted wisely.