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Altern Lab Anim. 2002 Mar-Apr;30(2):219-27.

The use of fetal bovine serum: ethical or scientific problem?

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Department of Laboratory Animal Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80166, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a common component of animal cell culture media. It is harvested from bovine fetuses taken from pregnant cows during slaughter. FBS is commonly harvested by means of a cardiac puncture without any form of anaesthesia. Fetuses are probably exposed to pain and/or discomfort, so the current practice of fetal blood harvesting is inhumane. Apart from moral concerns, several scientific and technical problems exist with regard to the use of FBS in cell culture. Efforts should be made to reduce the use of FBS or, preferably, to replace it with synthetic alternatives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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