The share of Americans who think that it’s unethical to do medical testing on animals has reached a new high in Gallup polling.
Forty-four percent of adults think that such medical testing is “morally wrong” according to the results of a recent survey conducted by Gallup, up from 26 percent in 2001. Gallup says that the change is driven by younger Americans, who are more likely than their older peers to disapprove of medical testing.
While it is standard to use animals like mice and rats in medical research — especially to test drugs — scientists are increasingly raising concerns that differences between animal and human physiology may make drugs look effective in mice but useless in humans, or vice versa.
And public resistance to animal testing is growing. People know more about animal cognition, and the National Institutes of Health announced in 2015 that it was shuttering its chimp research program.
Some researchers are trying to develop customizable models of human organ systems that they could use to test drugs, eliminating the need for lab rats altogether.
The poll was not specific to science but did ask about a variety of medical activities. Human embryonic stem cell research is becoming more acceptable — 61 percent gave it a thumbs-up in 2017, up from 52 percent in 2002.
Changes in opinions about the moral acceptability of behaviors like doctor-assisted suicide and animal and human cloning were not statistically significant.
Support for animal cloning hovers just above 30 percent, while human cloning was favored by only 14 percent of people this year. That makes it the second-least acceptable behavior of all, coming ahead only of married people having affairs.
The poll had a sampling error rate of four percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.