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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2003;6(4):319-38.

Genetically modified laboratory animals--what welfare problems do they face?

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  • 1Center for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


In this article, we respond to public concern expressed about the welfare of genetically modified (GM) nonhuman animals. As a contribution to the debate on this subject, we attempt in this article to determine in what situations the practice of genetic modification in rodents may generate significant welfare problems. After a brief discussion of the principles of animal welfare, we focus on the problem of animal suffering and review some types of gene modifications likely to cause predictable welfare problems. In this article, we also consider suffering that may be involved in the process of generating GM animals. Finally, we discuss the role of GM animals in attempts to reduce, replace, and refine the use of animals in research.

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