Giving Compass' Take:

• Cindy A. Buckmaster argues that animal studies are still needed to further scientific research in the United States, and cannot be replaced by other methods. 

• How can funders balance the need for scientific discovery and animal welfare? 

• Learn how rats could be key in the global TB fight.

Thanks to animals, we can bridge the gap from cell-level discoveries to treatments offered in clinics and hospitals worldwide. Animal studies are also required by law. They ensure that new medications are as safe as possible before we give them to our children, parents and loved ones. They are a key part of the health research continuum that also includes cell, genetic and tissue studies; computer models, organs on a chip and of course, human volunteers. ALL of these techniques are important and none are no longer necessary.

Given the often-irreplaceable role of animals in health research, we can clearly identify one of the biggest threats to continued progress: A lack of public understanding. Gallup poll results released this past summer suggest that 54 percent of Americans view medical testing on animals as “morally acceptable.” A recent Pew Research Center survey claims that only 47 percent of us favor the practice.

While both polls raise serious concerns, there is a silver lining. The Pew results reveal much higher support among more educated respondents and those with greater science knowledge. This highlights an urgent need for the scientific community to more openly discuss their work and how research animals are cared for.

However, the public’s lack of understanding is also viewed as an opportunity by those with covert agendas. Opponents seek to capitalize off our shared scientific disconnect by muddying the issue. They offer misleading statistics about the success of animal studies that, upon thorough examination, are either highly questionable or entirely bogus. They confuse supporters by blurring the line between cosmetic safety testing, which can frequently be conducted with non-animal alternatives, and cutting-edge biomedical research, which cannot.

Read the full article about animal studies by Cindy A. Buckmaster at InsideSources.