For many researchers in biomedical sciences, the use of animal models is an integral part of daily work and crucial to advancing knowledge. While most investigators are well aware of the threat posed to such advancement by animal rights extremists, a recent editorial in Nature Neuroscience cautions that more attention should be paid to the subtler ways in which animal rights activists are impeding research, such as making it prohibitively difficult to transport research animals to institutions or pushing to ban use of individual species. Such tactics are particularly difficult to counter as they are often dressed as attempts reduce the number of animals used, ensure welfare of research animals, and reduce research costs – goals which are indeed of high importance to scientists and the public alike. The authors stress the importance of demonstrating to politicians and the public that stringent measures to address such concerns are already an integral part of the scientific process, as well as educating the public on the crucial importance of using animals in research and the powerful results such work yields. This succinct yet thorough editorial can give all of us in the research community pause to consider not only how the usage of animals in research can be defended and, indeed, further improved upon, but also how critical it is to increase transparency of research practices and bridge the gap between science and the public.
Read the editorial here.