NASA PRINCIPLES FOR THE ETHICAL CARE
AND USE OF ANIMALS - SUNDOWNER REPORT
ethical guidelines for use of animals in research have been assumed,
not articulated in the literature. The principles articulated
by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in
late 1996 are the current "gold standard" for these concepts.
strong allegiance to the principles of bioethics is vital to any
discussion of responsible research practices. As reflected in
the considerations of the National Commission for the Protection
of Human Subjects, "scientific research has produced substantial
social benefits . . . [and] some troubling ethical questions"
(the Belmont Report, 1979). The Belmont Report identified the
key fundamental principles underlying the ethical evaluation of
research involving human subjects. Similarly, the principles governing
the ethical evaluation of the use of animals in research must
be made equally explicit.
is generally agreed that vertebrate animals warrant moral concern.
The following principles are offered to guide careful and considered
discussion of the ethical challenges that arise in the course
of animal research, a process that must balance risks, burdens,
and benefits. NASA will abide by these principles as well as all
applicable laws and policies that govern the ethical use of animals
(see references at end). It is recognized that awareness of these
principles will not prevent conflicts. Rather, these principles
are meant to provide a framework within which challenges can be
use of animals in research involves responsibility--not only for
the stewardship of the animals but to the scientific community
and society as well. Stewardship is a universal responsibility
that goes beyond the immediate research needs to include acquisition,
care and disposition of the animals, while responsibility to the
scientific community and society requires an appropriate understanding
of, and sensitivity to, scientific needs and community attitudes
toward the use of animals.
the basic principles generally accepted in our culture, three
are particularly relevant to the ethics of research using animals:
respect for life, societal benefit, and non-maleficence.
- Respect for Life
Living creatures deserve respect. This principle requires that
animals used in research should be of an appropriate species
and health status, and should involve the minimum number required
to obtain valid scientific results. It also recognizes that
the use of different species may raise different ethical concerns.
Selection of appropriate species should consider cognitive
and other morally relevant factorials. Additionally, methods
such as mathematical models, computer simulation, and in vitro
systems should be considered and used whenever possible.
- Societal Benefit
The advancement of biological knowledge and improvements in
the protection of the health and well being of both humans
other animals provide strong justification for biomedical and
behavioral research. This principle entails that where animals
are used, the assessment of the overall ethical value of such
use should include consideration of the full range of potential
societal good, the populations affected, and the burdens that
are expected to be borne by the subjects of the research.
Vertebrate animals are sentient. This principle entails that
the minimization of distress, pain and suffering is a moral
imperative. Unless the contrary is established, investigators
should consider that procedures that cause pain or distress
in humans may cause pain or distress in other sentient animals.
- Belmont Report, 1979.
- Animal Welfare Act (Public Law 89-544
Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate
Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training. Developed
by IRAC and endorsed by the Public Health Service Policy
on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 1985.
Guiding Principles for Biomedical Research Involving Animals,
Developed by the Council for International Organizations
Medical Sciences, Switzerland, 1985.
Health Service Act (Public Law 99-158, 1985).
- Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory
[Reprinted from the University of Minnesota's "Research Review,"