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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Definition of 'Distress' Under Debate
15 August 2000 6:00 pm
Plans by the U.S. government to change the way researchers characterize pain and distress in lab animals is drawing reaction from biomedical research and animal-rights groups. In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asked for comments on the new guidelines, which are supposed to help researchers spot and lessen discomfort in lab animals. Among other things, the plan defines "distress" as stress that an animal "cannot escape" and has "negative effects on its well being."
Last week, however, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) said it would prefer a different definition. Scientists at a FASEB workshop endorsed language, adopted by the National Research Council in 1992, that describes stress as "an aversive state in which an animal ... shows maladaptive behaviors." FASEB also urged USDA to adopt practical guidelines that would rely on the "professional judgement" of researchers and veterinarians.
The Humane Society of the United States and other animal-welfare groups, however, want USDA to adopt a Canadian-style classification scheme that ranks levels of pain and distress into three or more categories, based on examples of common lab procedures. "We need a pain and distress scale with very clear-cut markers," says John McArdle, director of the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Other schemes may still surface, as USDA is likely to extend its current 8 September comment deadline until later in the fall.