SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1991

The Animal Welfare Act: Implication and Predictions in Lower Vertebrate Research


The use of animals in basic and applied research is governed by both scientific objectives and ethical considerations. Heightened concern over the humane treatment of experimental animals by the scientific community and the public has led to the development of guidelines and regulations concerning animal care and use. Most of these regulations, to a large extent under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and federal granting agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are directed towards research on higher vertebrates, especially mammals. Guidelines for care and use of lower vertebrates are minimal to nonexistent and are frequently extrapolated from mammalian models. However, it appears that further regulation of lower vertebrate research is probable.

This paper summarizes a panel discussion that was conduced at the 14th ASTM Aquatic Toxicology Symposium on 22 April 1990. The panel consisted of two members from federal regulatory agencies (USDA and NIH) and three members from research institutions (representing industrial, Federal, and academic laboratories). The purpose of this discussion was to establish a dialogue on the care and use of lower vertebrates in research. Included is a discussion of the history and future of animal welfare legislation and how the various regulations are implemented in the three laboratory situations. Emphasis will be on fish, although the principles of animal care and use could apply to other ectotherms as well. A number of key issues need to be addressed by the scientific community relative to lower vertebrate research: (1) Should additional guidelines be established? (2) Who should establish them? (3) What is the role of the investigator in formulating guidelines that will affect his/her research? (4) Are separate guidelines needed for different organizations (university, industry, and government) and for specific applications such as animal holding-maintenance versus experimentation? (5) Should general or specific guidelines be identified? (6) What criteria should be used? (7) How can this be implemented? The consensus of the panel is that it is in the best interest of the investigators to take an active role in the development of suitable guidelines for the animals with which they work. Possible mechanisms to achieve this are discussed.

Author Information

Olson, KR
Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend Center, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
Crawford, RL
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Hyattsville, MD
Gingerich, WH
National Fisheries Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, LaCrosse, WI
Meyerhoff, RD
Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Greenfield, IN
Miller, JG
Office For Protection From Research Risks, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 5–11
DOI: 10.1520/STP23560S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5176-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1425-8