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PMID: 24718472


From its basis in the writings of the philosopher Peter Singer and the bioethical shortcomings of animal experimentation and animal husbandry, the animal rights movement has evolved into an important societal movement critical of animal experimentation in biomedical research. A lack of dialogue and transparency, an absence of understanding and an unreasonable radicalization of different positions regarding animal experimentation has frequently resulted in an adversarial relationship between some members of the scientific community and societal groups aggressively protecting animal rights. In response to this problem, both the bioethical regulations pertaining to biomedical experimentation with animals and the powers of animal care committees (IACUCs) have been strengthened. Careful analysis of the relevance of animal models to human conditions, replacement of these models with non-animal models when possible, adequate re-examination of existing knowledge before undertaking new experimental projects involving animals, and the improvement of methods to avoid animal stress and pain have further strengthened the bioethical basis of animal experimentation. To improve the ethical integrity of research conducted with animals, it is also necessary to increase the editorial scrutiny of the bioethical standards of potentially publishable research utilizing animals. Of note is also the recent use of animals in alternative animal associated therapies (AAT) to ameliorate several medical conditions. Education of the biomedical community, including students and professionals, and of societal groups concerned about this issue as well as directness and continuous dialogue among all the stakeholders are essential to insure the wellbeing of animals and the ethical integrity of biomedical research.