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Table 3 Reasons for and against restricting invasive research with great apes (GA)

From: Should biomedical research with great apes be restricted? A systematic review of reasons

Domain Position Subdomain and reasons N References
Moral standing   104  
   Similarity to humans 60  
  Pro GA possess certain cognitive and behavioral capacities similar to humans, and thus deserve special protections 15 [2, 3, 17, 18, 25, 27, 28, 30, 32, 36, 37, 39, 55, 59, 60]
   GA and humans have a similar evolutionary origin, so GA deserve special protections 10 [3, 18, 25, 37, 39, 55, 59, 60, 63, 69]
   GA possess certain conscious experiences similar to humans, and thus deserve special protections 9 [2, 17, 18, 28, 32, 37, 39, 55, 59]
   Like humans, GA exhibit moral behavior, and thus deserve special protections 8 [2, 18, 28, 36, 37, 39, 47, 55]
   GA are greatly anatomically and/or physiologically similar to humans, and thus deserve special protections 6 [2, 18, 27, 32, 37, 55]
   There is great genetic similarity between GA and humans, so GA deserve special protections 5 [2, 35, 37, 55, 69]
   Like humans, GA have a long period of childhood dependency on the mother, so they deserve special protections 3 [36, 37, 59]
   GA are very similar to humans (unspecified), and thus deserve special protections 2 [3, 65]
   GA possess cognitive capacities similar to those of cognitively disabled humans, and thus deserve special protections 1 [60]
  Con GA seem very similar to us, but this need not entail special protections since it may be the result of training or mimicking 1 [40]
   Cognitive and consciousness-related capacities 32  
  Pro GA can have complex conscious experiences, so they deserve special protections 19 [3, 13,14,15, 18, 23, 25,26,27, 33, 35, 39, 41, 42, 47, 48, 53, 64, 69]
   GA have certain sophisticated cognitive capacities so they deserve special protections 13 [3, 16, 25,26,27, 33, 35, 37, 41, 46, 47, 63, 69]
   Double standards 8  
  Pro Treating GA with less consideration than humans, without good reason, is speciesist 7 [18, 29, 32, 33, 42, 49, 63]
   Treating GA with less consideration than humans is inhumane 1 [47]
   Vulnerability and dependency 4  
  Pro Captive GA can be considered vulnerable subjects, and thus deserve special protections 3 [18, 42, 49]
   Captive GA are in a special relation of dependency on humans, and thus deserve special protections 1 [49]
Science    89  
   Scientific and medical value 56  
  Pro Current GA research has low medical value 12 [2, 13,14,15, 35, 41, 43, 46,47,48, 61, 64]
   GA research lacks significant scientific value (unspecified) 6 [13, 17, 27, 41, 43, 48]
   The medical value of past GA research need not predict the medical value of future GA research 2 [44, 62]
   Past GA research has been falsely credited as having high medical value 2 [15, 43]
   Even if the need of GA to combat an emerging diseases were justified, their use would not be possible for logistical and economic reasons 1 [64]
   The supposed need of GA research to combat emerging diseases is unjustified 1 [61]
   GA have not been key to combating emerging diseases 1 [26]
  Con Current GA research has high medical value 9 [31, 34, 38, 50, 51, 56, 58, 59, 67]
   Past GA research has had high medical value 6 [31, 38, 51, 59, 66, 67]
   GA may be needed to combat future emerging diseases (e.g. Ebola) 4 [12, 50, 66, 67]
   Past GA research has had high scientific value 3 [12, 66, 67]
   Abandoning GA as research models may slow down medical discovery 2 [51, 66]
   Current GA research has high scientific value 1 [67]
   GA research is essential for reducing risks to human research subjects 1 [67]
   The medical value of past GA research is a good predictor of the medical value of future GA research 1 [67]
   The medical value of GA research may be higher than it seems, since some GA research supplied to regulatory agencies is never published 1 [67]
   GA research-based medical progress will become increasingly apparent with time 1 [51]
   GA research may become (even more) medically valuable as a result of new technologies 1 [67]
   Restricting GA research could cost human lives 1 [66]
   Existence of alternative methods 27  
  Pro GA research is unnecessary (unspecified) 7 [12, 14, 24, 28, 37, 41, 60]
   Alternative, ethical methods (e.g., other animals or non-animal models) exist 6 [2, 15, 28, 41, 44, 62]
   Restricting GA research might drive scientists to develop alternative research methods 1 [26]
  Con No alternative, ethical methods exist 8 [22, 31, 38, 51, 56, 59, 66, 67]
   GA research is necessary (unspecified) 3 [50, 58, 65]
   Major medical advances would not have been possible with alternative methods 2 [12, 67,]
   Reliability of methods 6  
  Pro The methodology of current GA research is questionable (unspecified) 1 [41]
   GA used in labs often have multiple diseases and so are inappropriate research models, scientifically and ethically 1 [24]
   The stress that GA face in laboratory life can produce misleading research results 1 [14]
   The apparent genetic similarity between GA and humans need not entail that GA are appropriate research models 1 [15]
   GA have proved to be poor research models, so investing resources in them may hinder the advancement of medicine 1 [14]
  Con Given the phylogenetic continuity between GA and humans, GA are good animal models for studying human diseases 1 [31]
Welfare    32  
  Pro GA care and housing requirements are virtually impossible to meet 5 [2, 17, 26, 47, 61]
   The conditions of captive GA are appalling 4 [3, 37, 53, 64]
   GA care and housing requirements are not actually met 2 [37, 64]
   The conditions of captive GA can cause GA psychological harms 2 [26, 53]
   GA care and housing requirements are particularly high (unspecified) 1 [64]
   GA research sometimes significantly harms GA (unspecified) 1 [63]
   GA research sometimes significantly harms GA physically 1 [26]
   GA research sometimes significantly harms GA psychologically 1 [26]
   Since GA are long-lived, they are used for multiple protocols, which results in increased suffering 1 [64]
   Since GA are long-lived, they can be kept in laboratories for decades, which is unethical 1 [26]
   Captivity deprives GA of social learning, which is required for normal development 1 [55]
   The benefits of GA research do not outweigh the harms it causes GA 1 [64]
   Although there is great uncertainty regarding the nature and magnitude of GA suffering, we should assume that suffering may occur 1 [47]
  Con GA care and housing requirements can actually be met 3 [40, 56, 59]
   GA research can be carried out without significantly harming GA 2 [22, 66]
   GA are better off in research facilities (e.g., in terms of life-expectancy or wellbeing) than in the wild 2 [56, 66]
   GA care in research facilities is adequate 1 [66]
   GA research is necessary for improving GA welfare 1 [21]
   Captive GA that are abandoned by their owners are better off in research facilities than in the wild since there are no available sanctuaries to keep them 1 [56]
Public and expert attitudes   24  
  Pro Many other (developed) countries have already restricted GA research 12 [13, 15, 24, 26, 27, 30, 39, 46, 47, 53, 61, 64]
   There is opposition for GA use in research 8 [14, 15, 26, 28, 33, 39, 46, 64]
   Many pharmaceutical companies and private laboratories have already ended GA use 1 [14]
   Expert support for invasive GA research has declined 1 [61]
   GA scientists now share concern about GA research 1 [26]
   GA research sometimes requires euthanizing GA, but euthanizing GA is widely condemned 1 [57]
Conservation and retirement   20  
  Pro Supplying GA for research has led to a decline of wild populations and the threat of extinction 2 [2, 60]
   GA are endangered species (unspecified) 2 [26, 64]
   Optimal GA retirement should be to return them to the wild, but this is not feasible 1 [35]
   Appeals to conservation do not justify breeding GA in captivity for research 1 [47]
  Con Conservation efforts could benefit from GA research 4 [20, 21, 35, 66]
   GA could be cared for after research by moving them to near-wild conditions 3 [56, 58, 59]
   GA research could improve the welfare and protection of GA as a species 2 [20, 21]
   Enough captive GA are already available for research 2 [56, 65]
   Breeding captive GA for research could ensure the survival of the species 1 [66]
   GA could be cared for after research by moving them to other research facilities 1 [40]
   GA could be cared for after research by moving them to indoor/outdoor facilities 1 [31]
Respect and rights   15  
  Pro GA are capable of assenting/dissenting (like children) 5 [19, 32, 33, 42, 45]
   GA can be considered subjects with diminished or no capacity for informed consent 3 [3, 48, 68]
   GA possess enough cognitive capacities to be considered persons 3 [3, 25, 49]
   GA possess enough cognitive capacities to be considered near-persons or person-like 2 [29, 30]
   Given that GA have the same capacities we cite for humans having the moral right to life, freedom, and welfare, GA should also be conceived as having these rights 1 [25]
   Given that GA have the capacities that may form the foundation of personhood, they have a moral right against our intentional infliction of harm 1 [49]
Financial costs   13  
  Pro Required GA care and housing costs are too high to be cost-effective 3 [2, 47, 61]
   Required GA care and housing costs are particularly high 2 [2, 35]
   The financial costs of GA research are particularly high 2 [14, 46]
   The benefits of GA research do not outweigh the financial costs 1 [13]
   Given that GA are long-lived, the costs of GA care and housing after research is particularly high 1 [60]
   Funding for GA research continues to decrease, while the costs of GA research continues to increase 1 [26]
  Con Many experiments could be carried out with just a small population of GA 1 [67]
   Given that GA are long-lived, the costs of GA care and housing after research is high but manageable 1 [31]
   Restricting GA research could increase medicine costs 1 [66]
Law and legal status   11  
  Pro Some laws and policies already restrict the use of GA for research 3 [15, 30, 59]
   Given their cognitive capacities, GA should be granted legal personhood 2 [63, 69]
   GA should be granted the legal right to liberty 1 [69]
   GA should be granted the legal right not to be subjected to experiments that are not in their best interests 1 [63]
   GA should be granted the legal right to personal security 1 [63]
   GA should be granted the legal right to life 1 [63]
  Con Laws and policies protecting GA vary in terms of strictness depending on setting (research, zoos, or private homes) 1 [21]
   Granting legal personhood to GA is a slippery slope into granting legal personhood to other animals 1 [54]
Longer-term consequences   7  
  Pro Restricting GA research is instrumental for restricting research on other animal species 3 [2, 17, 33]
   Restricting GA research is an important first step away from speciesism against GA 1 [63]
   Restricting invasive GA research need not have a negative impact on non-invasive GA research 1 [16]
  Con Restricting GA research will have a negative impact on non-invasive GA research 2 [21, 52]
Total    315