The Humane Society of the United States

Biomedical Research

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Picture the dog at your feet, the guinea pigs or mice you had as pets growing up, or the birds at the feeder in your yard. Now imagine 25 million of animals just like these living in small laboratory cages and being deliberately sickened over the course of weeks, months, or even years--and then killed.

The HSUS recognizes that important medical advances (for both humans and animals) have been made through the use of animals in research laboratories. We continue to strive (since we were formed in 1954) to spur scientific development and innovation and the implementation of alternatives in order to replace the use of animals in research that causes animals harm. Until such replacements are available, we will work to reduce the number of animals used and refine research to decrease animal suffering.

The position and goals of The HSUS on the troubling issue of animal research reflect the opinion of Nobel-prize winning biologist Sir Peter Medawar, who recognized almost fifty years ago the value gained through the use of animals in laboratories but who added, even back then, that current reliance on animals "does not imply that we are forevermore, and in increasing numbers, to enlist animals in the scientific service of man. I think that the use of experimental animals on the present scale is a temporary episode in biological and medical history, and that its peak will be reached in ten years’ time, or perhaps even sooner. In the meantime, we must grapple with the paradox that nothing but research on animals will provide us with the knowledge that will make it possible for us, one day, to dispense with the use of them altogether.” (Medawar, 1972).

If animal experimentation was the hallmark of 20th century biomedical research, sophisticated non-animal methods are likely to characterize 21st century research. Many humane state-of-the-art alternatives to animal experiments have already been shown to be effective in advancing medical progress, cutting research costs, and eliminating animal suffering.

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