The Ethics of Biological Studies With Living Organisms

The Ethics of Biological Studies With Living Organisms
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  • 0:00 Ethical Biological Studies
  • 0:32 Procurement
  • 1:53 Treatment
  • 3:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
In this lesson, you'll learn about some general ethical considerations that must be taken when procuring and treating animals used in biological studies. Afterward, take our quiz to see what you've learned.

Ethical Biological Studies

We derive humongous benefits from the sacrifice of millions of animals around the world. Yes, food is the obvious thing here, but there's more. Everything from makeup, to glue, to life-saving medication is in one way, shape, or form derived from the sacrifices of animals, including biological studies on animals. Here you're going to learn about the basic ethical guidelines and regulations regarding the humane procurement and treatment of animals involved in such studies.


Animals that will be used in biological studies have to be ethically and lawfully procured, or obtained. There are many layers as to why this is important. Animals that are obtained from shelters need to be checked for tattoos and for microchips. Why? They could be someone's lost pet. How would you like to know that your beloved dog, one that ran away from home, is now sitting in a cage having medical tests conducted on it?

Animal species that are obtained for studies must also be cross-checked as to their conservation status. Those species that are threatened or endangered should not be used in biological studies simply because there are so few of them left.

Animals that are procured for laboratory studies should also be sourced from certified vendors that purpose-breed animals for such studies. Not only does this ensure that no pets are accidentally obtained but this is also important for the studies themselves as these kinds of animals are of a known genetic quality and their medical history is well-documented. Genetics and medical history can greatly influence the outcome of a biological study, and this is why obtaining animals from such vendors is often preferred. This way, a second study that sacrifices even more animals may be avoided if the first study uses appropriate animals that do not bring the study's results into question.


Before any animal is procured, it is of utmost ethical importance that the animals are not only lawfully acquired but that they have appropriate housing and medical care needs met by the likes of veterinary staff. Inasmuch, all animals need to be watched for any signs of illness or abnormal behavior by personnel who are trained to recognize these signs. Such checks need to occur at least once per day. If an unexpected death or sign of distress occurs, then animals need to be attended to by a veterinarian immediately.

All animals must have access to food and fluid in such a way that the animal's well-being is maintained. Some studies need to restrict food or fluid intake. In such cases, the least restriction possible should be put in place so the scientific objective is achieved while the animal's well-being is maintained.

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