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Guidelines development and scientific uncertainty: use of previous case studies to promote efficient production of guidelines on the care and use of fish in research, teaching and testing

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The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) develops guidelines on issues of current and emerging concern in response to the needs of the scientific community, advances in animal care, and the needs of the CCAC Assessment Program. Guidelines are developed by subcommittees of experts, and are based on sound scientific evidence. However, the process of guidelines' development can involve consideration of areas where there is little scientific certainty or where scientific evidence needs to be tempered by other ethical considerations. Often these are areas where recommendations to the community are most needed, to provide assistance to both investigators and animal care committees on how best to balance the well-being of experimental animals and the goals of scientific research. The process for drafting the CCAC guidelines on: the care and use of fish in research, teaching and testing (in preparation) will be used as an example of the development of guidelines in the face of uncertain science, alongside a discussion of the CCAC guidelines on: transgenic animals (1997), as an example of the employment of a precautionary approach. Fish are now one of the most commonly used laboratory animals in Canada. However, what constitutes well-being for fish is an emerging field with often conflicting scientific data, and this presents unique challenges in guidelines' development.
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Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; ETHICS; FISH; GENETICALLY MODIFIED ANIMALS; PAIN AND DISTRESS; PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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