I'm my most recent column, I tackle animal research:

Cells growing in a dish or experiments run on a computer only get one so far. Some of the trickiest outstanding questions in biology—the questions most important for medical research—require a complete organism with all the interlocking parts that make up a living thing. Most important drugs work on that level; things invented in a dish often fail when faced with the hundreds of cell types all interacting in a full organism. Mice, most often of all mammals, end up the subjects of modern biological research. Their nonhumanness—the short life spans, quick breeding cycles, genomes amenable to manipulation, and carefully established and maintained inbred strains—make mice invaluable in new medical and biological discoveries. Humans are wondrously complex, hugely outbred, and long living, and therefore a terrible (and, needless to say, unethical) starting point for the testing of most new medical ideas.

Scientists reluctantly resort to animal research. Contrary to some of the propaganda, most of my colleagues who have worked with animals have felt a genuine and deep respect for the sacrifice—painfully balancing the ethical considerations in their work.

A pretty vigorous and interesting conversation has started in the comments:

"respect for the sacrifice"

Sacrifice implies a willingness on the animals part. Unless you are saying the experiment is some kind of omnipotent deity, that the animal is honored to give it's life for.

Animals don't really care about "respect" they care about pain, and life. They would much rather you disrespect them and let them live with out injecting them with poisons; then "respect" them and kill them painfully.

Also what Science doesn't touch in his response is the completely horrible conditions many of these animals are kept in. Monkeys get boiled alive because no one bothered to check before putting a cage in the cleaner. Disease and malnutrition are not uncommon. Even intelligent social species are kept in cramped solitary quarters.

What Science totally glosses over is the fact that the animals that are experimented on do not just materialize out of thin air. They born into horrible conditions, kept in horrible conditions, then killed painfully.

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