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Animals 2019, 9(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9010012

Ethical and Scientific Pitfalls Concerning Laboratory Research with Non-Human Primates, and Possible Solutions

1
Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon, Department Animal Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1749-016, Portugal
2
Catolica Research Center for Psychological, Family and Social Wellbeing (CRC-W), Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Palma de Cima, Lisboa 1649-023, Portugal
3
Centre for Animal Welfare, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 July 2018 / Revised: 18 December 2018 / Accepted: 24 December 2018 / Published: 29 December 2018
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Simple Summary

Legislation and guidelines governing biomedical research with humans and non-human primates (NHPs) rely on different ethical frameworks. In this paper we argue that the main ethical framework used to assess and justify NHP experimentation is inadequate for its purpose. We propose a change of framework that we believe would benefit NHPs and improve research quality.

Abstract

Basic and applied laboratory research, whenever intrusive or invasive, presents substantial ethical challenges for ethical committees, be it with human beings or with non-human animals. In this paper we discuss the use of non-human primates (NHPs), mostly as animal models, in laboratory based research. We examine the two ethical frameworks that support current legislation and guidelines: deontology and utilitarianism. While human based research is regulated under deontological principles, guidelines for laboratory animal research rely on utilitarianism. We argue that the utilitarian framework is inadequate for this purpose: on the one hand, it is almost impossible to accurately predict the benefits of a study for all potential stakeholders; and on the other hand, harm inflicted on NHPs (and other animals) used in laboratory research is extensive despite the increasing efforts of ethics committees and the research community to address this. Although deontology and utilitarianism are both valid ethical frameworks, we advocate that a deontological approach is more suitable, since we arguably have moral duties to NHPs. We provide suggestions on how to ensure that research currently conducted in laboratory settings shifts towards approaches that abide by deontological principles. We assert that this would not impede reasonable scientific research. View Full-Text
Keywords: non-human primate research; biomedical research; deontology; utilitarianism; animal use alternatives non-human primate research; biomedical research; deontology; utilitarianism; animal use alternatives
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Carvalho, C.; Gaspar, A.; Knight, A.; Vicente, L. Ethical and Scientific Pitfalls Concerning Laboratory Research with Non-Human Primates, and Possible Solutions. Animals 2019, 9, 12.

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