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Animal rights organizations—such as PETA and BUAV—question the need for and legitimacy of animal testing, arguing that it is cruel and poorly regulated, that medical progress is actually held back by misleading animal models that cannot reliably predict effects in humans, that some of the tests are outdated, that the costs outweigh the benefits, or that animals have the intrinsic right not to be used or harmed in experimentation.The terms animal testing, animal experimentation, animal research, in vivo testing, and vivisection have similar denotations but different connotations.In the European Union, vertebrate species represent 93% of animals used in research, and 11.5 million animals were used there in 2011.
Examples of applied research include testing disease treatments, breeding, defense research and toxicology, including cosmetics testing.
In education, animal testing is sometimes a component of biology or psychology courses.
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Experimental research with animals is usually conducted in universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies, defense establishments and commercial facilities that provide animal-testing services to industry.
The focus of animal testing varies on a continuum from pure research, focusing on developing fundamental knowledge of an organism, to applied research, which may focus on answering some question of great practical importance, such as finding a cure for a disease.The practice is regulated to varying degrees in different countries.It is estimated that the annual use of vertebrate animals—from zebrafish to non-human primates—ranges from tens to more than 100 million.For the purposes of this Research Topic, service dogs and miniature horses, and emotional support animals, are collectively referred to as assistance animals.Therapy animals and other animal-assisted interventions are outside the scope of this topic.Sources of laboratory animals vary between countries and species; most animals are purpose-bred, while a minority are caught in the wild or supplied by dealers who obtain them from auctions and pounds.The Institute for Laboratory Animal Research of the United States National Academy of Sciences has argued that animal research cannot be replaced by even sophisticated computer models, which are unable to deal with the extremely complex interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms and the environment.Animals, predominantly dogs, have increasing roles performing useful specific tasks and offering meaningful support and comfort to people with disabilities.Uses of assistance animals accelerated in the 1980s and, in the United States, people using service animals were given protection under the Americans ...The increased use of assistance animals is also complicated by the lack of surveillance, and a complex and often contradictory regulatory framework.For this Research Topic, we invite papers representing a variety of approaches from various countries that elucidate and advance the roles of assistance animals.