Submission Number: FRA-4-331-167
Abstract Number: 3
ANIMALS AND PROGRESS IN REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY: MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
Frank F Bartol*
Auburn University, Auburn, AL 1
Advances in reproductive biology have changed the world. Among industrialized nations, at least, the public now accepts as fact that reproduction is a choice, that infertility can be overcome, that endangered species can be saved, and that cloning of mammals is no longer science fiction. Less obvious to most is the impact that advances in reproductive and allied sciences have had on animal agriculture and, consequently, on our capacity and potential to meet the nutritional needs of a growing, hungry world. Progress in reproductive biology continues to depend significantly upon the insights of scientists inspired by their interactions with animals. From descriptions of avian embryogenesis by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. to recent studies of cultured mammalian somatic cells that set the stage for cloning, the central role that animals and animal model systems play in advancing the reproductive sciences is undeniable. The methods of science, motivations of scientists, and remarkable creativity embodied by the uniquely human scientific process are rarely considered and seldom appreciated by the general public. For most people, even those who have never feared disease or known hunger, science remains a mysterious process through which great expectations are realized and solutions to complex problems are divined. The motives and actions of scientists, often held in high regard, are also often misunderstood and, therefore, viewed with suspicion. Consequently, when efforts to investigate or manipulate fundamental biological processes such as reproduction involve the use of animals, society now demands assurances that: animals are not being used unnecessarily, inappropriately, or frivolously; that procedures are adopted that will reduce or eliminate pain, distress and discomfort when animals must be used; and that such procedures are regulated by institutions and agencies that sponsor and support this work. These assurances must come from scientists. A public that is not convinced of these things, and suspects the motives of scientists and the value of science, can be convinced that continued use of animals in research and education is not justifiable. Should such attitudes give rise to legislation prohibiting use of animals or animal models in research or education the impact on progress in reproductive biology and related disciplines could be devastating. Increasingly, progress in reproductive biology, and other areas of life science aimed at understanding mechanisms in human and animal systems, will depend upon the ability of scientists to reduce or eliminate public misconceptions and concern over how animals are used and why animal use will continue to be essential. This will require that suspicion of science and scientists be replaced with honest confidence and trust in our efforts that are born from understanding. Scientists should be ready and willing to describe their work involving animals in terms that will permit the lay public to make clear connections between the ideas underlying the work and the activities involving animals that are justified by these ideas. Regular investments of time and effort to improve public understanding of science and scientists, and the essential role that human-animal interactions play in catalyzing scientific progress will have lasting returns. Now, more than ever, such activities must be viewed as essential components of research and training programs in reproductive biology that will continue to make a difference.
Keywords: animals, research, scientists
This abstract is being presented at: 11:30 AM in session:
Minisymposium V: ANIMALS AND SCIENTIST: PARTNERS FOR PROGRESS IN REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY