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Appendix A 1896 Report of the National Academy of Sciences In 1896, the National Academy of Sciences was asked to reexpress an opinion as to the scientific value of experiments upon the lower anunals and as to the probable eEect of restrictive legislation upon the advancement of biological science. The request was initiated by Senator Jacob GaDinger in response to a request from the surgeon generals and the Chief of the Bureau of Anunal Industry. Gallinger had introduced legislation to restrict the use of animate in research. The request was as follows: To the Horl. Jacob H. Anger, Senator of the United States, Chairman of Subcommittee, etc. Washington, D.C., April 24, 1896. Sir: Referring to Senate bid 1552, we respectfully invite your attention to the fact that the National Academy of Sciences is now in session in this city, and that this body is generally recognized as the highest scientific tribunal in the United States; also that the act incorporating it contains the forgoing clause: hand the Academy shall, whenever caned upon by any Department of the Government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art." (Act approved March 3, 1863~. We respectfully request that the National Academy of Sci- ences be called upon to express ~ opinion as to the scientific value 89
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90 APPENDIX A of experunents upon the lower animals and as to the probable effect of restrictive legislation upon the advancement of biological science. Very respectfully, D.E. Simon, Chief of the Bureau of Anunal Industry. 3.R. Tryon, Surgeon General U.S.N. Geo. M. Sternberg, Surgeon General U.S.A. Walter Wyman, Surgeon General United States Marine Hospital Service. The National Academy of Sciences' response was drafted by Har- vard physiologist H.P. Bowditch and conveyed to Senator Gallinger in a letter from Academy President Wolcott Gibbs. The response was as follows: To the Han. Jacob H. G~linger. Washington, D.C., April 24, 1896 Sir: ~ have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a letter addressed to you by D.E. Salmon, the Chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry; J.R. Tryon, Surgeon General United States Navy; George M. Sternberg, Surgeon General United States Army; and Walter Wyman, Surgeon United States Marine Hospital Service, asking that the National Academy of Sciences be called upon to express an opinion as to the scientific value of experiments upon the lower animals and as to the probable effect of restrictive legislation upon the advancement of biological science. The letter of these gentlemen is supplemented by an expression of your desire that the National Academy of Sciences should report or make suggestions upon the subject. ~ accordance with your request, ~ have the honor to subunit to you the following report as the expression of the opinion of the National Academy of Sciences: Biology ~ the science of living organisms and tissues, and must therefore advance by means of observations and exper~rnents Inane upon living beings. One of its most unport ant branches, viz, physiology, or the science which deals with all the phenomena of life, from the activity of bacteria to that of the brain celb of man, forms the foundation upon which the science and practice of medicine
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APPENDIX A 91 are built up, since a knowledge of the bodily functions in their normal state is essential for the understanding and treatment of those derangements of function which constitute disease. The fact that the pursuit of physiology consists chiefly in the study of physical and che~rucal phenomena as manifested by liv- ing beings makes it necessary that physiology should be studied by experunental methods. The physiologist, no less than the physicist and the chemist, can expect advancement of his science only as the result of carefully planned laboratory work. If this work is inter- fered with, medical science will continue to advance, as heretofore, by means of experiment, for no legmiation can affect the position of physiology as an experimental science; but there will be this impor- tant difference, that the exper~rnenters will be medical practitioners and the victims human beings. That animals must suffer and die for the benefit of mankind is a law of nature, from which we can not escape if we would, and as long as man claims dominion over the brute creation and asserts his right to kill and mutilate animals in order to obtain food and clothing, and even for purposes of amusement and adornment, it is surely unreasonable to wage a humanitarian warfare against the only kind of pa~n-giv~ng practice that has for its object the relief of pain. The death of an animal in a physiological laboratory is usually attended with less suffering than is associated with so cawed natural deaths, for the discovery of anaesthetics hap extended its beneficent influence over the lower animals as well as over the human race, and In modern laboratories anaesthetics are always employed, except when the operation involves less suffering to the animal than the administration of the anaesthetic (as In the case of inoculations) or in those rare instances In which the anaesthetic would interfere with the object of the experiment. The suffering ~nciclent in biological investigation is therefore triR=g in amount and far less than that which Is associated with most other uses which man makes of the lower animals for purposes of business or pleasure. As an offset to this trifling amount of animal suffering are to be placed incalculable benefits to the human race. From the time when Aristotle first cliscoverec] the insensibility of the brain to the time when the latest experiments ~ the use of antitoxin have largely robbed diphtheria of its terror, almost every important Vance in the science of medicine has been the direct or the indirect result of knowledge acquired through animal experimentation.
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92 APPENDIX A It is, of course, conceivable that persons whose occupa- tions lead them to sacrifice animal life for scientific purposes may at tunes pay too little regard to the suffering which they inflict, but the Academy understands that even those who advocate restrictive legis- lation by Congress do not claim that such abuses exist in the District of Columbia, and until evidence of this sort ~ presented it would seem to be the part of wisdom to leave the regulation of research in the hands of the governing bodies of the institutions in which the work ~ going on. The men engaged In this work are actuated by mo- tives no less humane than those which guide the persons who desire to restrict their action. Of the value of any given experunent and of the amount of Queering which it involves they are, owing to their special traming, much better able to judge. When the men to whom the Government has intrusted the care of its higher institutions of research shad show themselves incapable of administering them in the interest clef science and humanity, then, and not till then, will it be necessary to invoke the authority of the National Legislature. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, WOLCOTT GIBBS, President of the National Academy of Sciences.