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Alternatives to animal experimentation are highly touted today by animal welfare advocates. Their campaign for adoption of alternatives has caused much discussion and debate within and outside of the biomedical community. The purpose of this paper was to examine the controversy and assess the more common alternatives, including the bacterial mutagenicity assay or Ames test, cell culture, and mathematical models for toxicity prediction. Safety testing of chemicals is the most promising of the fields for alternatives where laboratory animals are used, and incorporation of alternatives with live-animal assays is increasing. However, due to limitations of alternatives in use currently, there is still considerable need for in vivo systems. The veterinarian is central to the question of alternatives, in terms of humane considerations as well as the usefulness of animals in science. An effective role for the veterinarian is to serve as educator and mediator between the scientist using laboratory animals and the animal welfare proponent.


This paper is a winner of the Animal Welfare Science Essay Competition, The Institute for the Study of the Animal Problems, 1981, submitted while Dr. Niemi was a veterinary student in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University.