Why animal ethics committees don’t work or do they? Two sides to the argument

Why animal ethics committees don’t work

Russell, D. (2012). Why animal ethics committees don’t work. Between the Species: an online journal for the study of philosophy and animals, 15 (1), 127-142.

Animal ethics committees have been set up in many countries as a way to scrutinize animal experimentation and to assure the public that if animals are used in research then it is for a worthwhile cause and suffering is kept to a minimum. The ideals of Refinement, Reduction and Replacement are commonly upheld. However, while refinement and reduction receive much attention in animal ethics committees, the replacement of animals is much more difficult to incorporate into the committees’ deliberations. At least in Australia there are certain structural reasons for this but it is likely that most of the reasons why replacement is left out apply to other countries as well.

Or do they?

Allen, DG. & Halligan, R. (2013), Letter to the Editor – The Function of Animal Ethics Committees
Between the Species, 16, (1) 

Overall we believe AECs fulfil a valuable role in a number of areas. By inspection of animal holdings they maintain a high level of animal welfare in the animal holding areas. By scrutinizing every application to work with animals they ensure that proposed experiments have a clear and identifiable outcome and that any animal suffering is kept to the absolute minimum consistent with the importance of the biological question being asked.

The current situation is that community acceptance of animal experiments for scientific advance is widespread, though not universal, and this is enshrined in the legislation that regulates the AECs. The AECs operate within this community and legislative acceptance and ensure that these values are also followed by animal researchers.

Some follow-up website resources:

IACUCs and Animal Ethics Committees RESOURCES

Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals in Research