Advancing Knowledge and Education with the Assistance of Animals
ASU's position on the importance of animal study in research
ASU supports the responsible study and humane care and treatment of laboratory animals in research for the purpose of advancing knowledge and education. This position recognizes that, at this point in time, critical advances in human health and conservation of nature depend, at least in part, on the study of whole, living organisms.
Although there currently is no complete alternative to animal research, we believe that alternatives to the study of live animals should be developed and used wherever feasible. In recent years, a number of non-animal procedures have been developed and the number of animals used has been significantly reduced. ASU is committed to making further progress of this kind, and individuals involved in scientific research are among the best prepared and most motivated members of society to discover these alternative methods. In the meantime, ASU actively supports the development of “3R” techniques that:
- Reduce the number of animals used in studies
- Replace animals with other models whenever possible
- Refine procedures to ensure the most comfortable and humane conditions possible
ASU also subscribes to a fourth R—responsibility. Our researchers have a responsibility for the ethical involvement of animals in research that complies with or exceeds all applicable laws and regulations, and are held accountable to the highest standards of professionalism.
All requests involving animal study at ASU go through a rigorous review overseen by ASU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) in compliance with all government regulations including the Animal Welfare Act and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
More about regulations governing the use of animals in research.
The importance of animal research and our response to societal interests
Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century for both human and animal health. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that animal research has helped increase our life expectancy by 20.8 years. Millions of people and a similar number of animals would suffer or die unnecessarily if animal research were to cease.
A majority of Americans support the need for animal research aimed at medical advances. It is simply not possible to eliminate animal research altogether and still produce new or improved treatments for disease, including those for cancer, AIDS and other diseases that the public at large has established as priorities.
Similarly, the use of animals in research has been paramount to understanding animals in nature, and thus enhancing efforts to conserve the planet and the species with which we share it. Man’s influences on the planet cannot be eliminated, but, through a better understanding of the world around us to include studies involving animal subjects, these impacts can be modified to minimize the negative effects.
National Association of State Universities and Land-grant Colleges (NASULGC) statement on the use of animals in research (May 2008)
The use of animals in scientific research continues to provide the basis for critical innovations that have benefited our country and the global community. Through research involving animals, scientists at NASULGC institutions have advanced biomedicine, human nutrition and health, food production, food safety, biodefense, and animal health and welfare. Scientific research also has provided the basis for federal guidelines for the welfare, feeding and housing of animals.
Association members are committed to ensuring that research involving animals conforms to ethical, legal, and safety regulations and to the high standards of animal care and treatment. Fulfillment of this commitment requires effective ongoing training and education of investigators, support staff, and students, as well as rigorous regulation and oversight of animal research.
The members of NASULGC consider as fundamental to our core values of academic freedom the rights and responsibilities of faculty, researchers and students to conduct free inquiry within the boundaries of applicable laws, regulations, and institutional accountability, oversight and review. As part of these responsibilities, we will continue to provide forums for open exchange of ideas about any topic including the ethics of animal research and will protect the rights of those who wish to express particular points of view through campus policies on free expression. However, we also must ensure a safe work and learning environment for all members of our community, for all activities, including research involving the use of animals.
Unfortunately, a few individuals express their opposition to the use of animals by harassing, intimidating or using violence against researchers, their staff, and their families and/or destroying facilities and harming animals. We find such behavior unacceptable under any circumstances and condemn it.
The members of NASULGC endorse the use of animals to advance medicine and science when it is done in a legal and ethical way. We are committed, as appropriate, also to refining, reducing and replacing the use of animals in research. We shall uphold the rights of free inquiry and expression within the boundaries of high ethical standards and all applicable laws, regulations, and institutional policies. We reaffirm our commitment to protect our faculty, staff members, and students from harassment, threats, and physical harm. We will work within our institutions and with law enforcement authorities to safeguard animals and facilities used for such work, as well as our personnel and their families and homes. (May 2008)