NASA Principles for the Ethical Care and Use of Animals
A strong allegiance to the principles of bioethics is vital to any discussion of responsible research practices. As reflected in the considerations of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects, "scientific research has produced substantial social benefits ...[and] some troubling ethical questions" (The Belmont Report, 1979). The Belmont Report identified the key fundamental principles underlying the ethical evaluation of research involving human subjects. Similarly, the principles governing the ethical evaluation of the use of animals in research must be made equally explicit.
It is generally agreed that vertebrate animals warrant moral concern. The following principles are offered to guide careful and considered discussion of the ethical challenges that arise in the course of animal research, a process that must balance risks, burdens and benefits. NASA will abide by these principles as well as all applicable laws and policies that govern the ethical use of animals (see list at end). It is recognized that awareness of these principles will not prevent conflicts. Rather, these principles are meant to provide a framework within which challenges and conflicts can be rationally addressed.
The use of animals in research involves responsibility - not only for the stewardship of the animals but to the scientific community and society as well. Stewardship is a universal responsibility that goes beyond the immediate research needs to include acquisition, care and disposition of the animals, while responsibility to the scientific community and society requires an appropriate understanding of and sensitivity to scientific needs and community attitudes toward the use of animals.
Among the basic principles generally accepted in our culture, three are particularly relevant to the ethics of research using animals: respect for life, societal benefit and nonmaleficence.