Are there rules on animal testing?

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    The regulations that apply to animals in laboratories vary across species. In the U.S., under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide), any procedure can be performed on an animal if it can be successfully argued that it is scientifically justified. In general, researchers are required to consult with the institution's veterinarian and its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which every research facility is obliged to maintain. The IACUC must ensure that alternatives, including non-animal alternatives, have been considered, that the experiments are not unnecessarily duplicative, and that pain relief is given unless it would interfere with the study. Larry Carbone, a laboratory animal veterinarian, writes that, in his experience, IACUCs take their work very seriously regardless of the species involved, though the use of non-human primates always raises what he calls a "red flag of special concern."

    Mice, rats, and birds are not included in the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (though they are included in the Guide) and over the years, the definition of "animal" used by Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed several times to ensure that certain animals are included in protective legislation and that others, particularly farm animals, are excluded.

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