Animals Used in Research

Issues-Animals-Used-in-ResearchThe Issue

Despite the inherent limitations with the animal model and advances made in technology, it is estimated that over 100 million animals are used every year by the research industry, which includes universities, pharmaceutical and diagnostic laboratories, as well as military, agricultural and marine mammal facilities.


According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the total number of animals used in research, testing and teaching in the U.S. in 2016 was 820,812. It is important to note that this number does not include mice, rats or birds. These animals, which are estimated to account for upwards of 95% of all animals used in science, are not required to be counted, as they do not fall under the protections of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Government data shows that the use of AWA-covered animals is declining, but that the use of genetically-engineered mice and rats is growing at an alarming rate.

Animals are used in research in various ways, including as stand-ins for humans in biomedical, psychological and behavioral research; military training and weapons development; and for “spare parts” such as heart valves, which may be recovered as byproducts of the slaughterhouse industry.

How NAVS Helps

NAVS’ opposition to the use of animals in research is based on credible scientific evidence and compelling ethical arguments that vivisection is cruel and unnecessary, and that it can produce invalid, misleading results that can ultimately be harmful to people. Over reliance on animal models is actually counterproductive; it often sidetracks meaningful scientific progress while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and other resources.

NAVS is dedicated to advancing smarter science designed to generate the most accurate models of human disease, as well as models for testing chemicals and drugs that can predict what occurs in humans. Through the International Foundation for Ethical Research (IFER), NAVS awards grants to scientists in their quest to develop scientifically valid, human-relevant alternatives that replace the use of animals.

Through NAVS’ Advocacy Center, we provide tools and timely information on current legislation, regulatory initiatives and policies at all levels of government and industry that impact animals. In doing so, we empower our fellow advocates to take action, spread the word and make informed, compassionate choices that can influence decision makers to enact responsible animal-friendly changes.