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EDITORIAL Trimestriel-Printemps 2015 Editorial Offices: 3, rue Michel Ange / F-75794 Paris cedex 16 Phone: +33 (0)1 44 96 53 88 Email: cnrs-magazine@cnrs-dir.fr Website: www.cnrs.fr CNRS (headquarters): 3, rue Michel Ange / F-75794 Paris cedex 16 Publisher: Alain Fuchs Editorial Director: Brigitte Perucca Deputy Editorial Director: Fabrice Impériali Editor: Saman Musacchio Production Manager: Laurence Winter Writers: Nicolas Baker, Laure Cailloce, Gabriel Chardin, Emmanuelle Crane, Marin Dacos, Eddy Delcher, Léa Galanopoulo, Arby Gharibian, Valerie Herczeg, Fabrice Impériali, Brett Kraabel, Fui Lee Luk, Saman Musacchio, Emma Walton Translation Manager: Valerie Herczeg Copy Editors: Saman Musacchio and Valerie Herczeg Graphic Design: Céline Hein Iconography: Anne-Emmanuelle Hery and Marie Mabrouk Photoengraving: Scoop Communication / F- 45160 Olivet Printing: Groupe Morault, Imprimerie de Compiègne – 2, avenue Berthelot – Zac de Mercières – BP 60524 – 60205 Compiègne Cedex ISSN 1778-1442 AIP 0001308 CNRS Photos are available at: phototheque@cnrs.fr ; http://phototheque.cnrs.fr All rights reserved. Partial or full reproduction of articles or illustrations is strictly prohibited without prior written permission from the CNRS. On this cover: Camp of Pétionville in Port-au-Prince (Haiti), set up after the 2010 earthquake. © P. GORRIZ/UN PHOTO T oday, the relationship between biological research and animal testing is being challenged by numerous groups and individuals, who claim such experiments are in breach of animal welfare. In fact, animal research, which is necessary for scientific progress, can and must be conducted in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. Today’s climate of propaganda and obscurantism calls for clarification. The mission of biological research is to investigate life: its origins, diversity and evolution, the organization of molecules, cells, organisms and populations, and the genetic, physiological, and environmental factors that govern its vast complexity. Fulfilling that mission requires to observe life forms of all types, and act upon them to determine how they work. Animal research is essential for understanding the “rules” of living beings—even when these rules have first been approached in vitro or in silico. An outright ban on animal testing would seriously hinder biomedical breakthroughs, responses to biodiversity and environmental challenges, as well as the advancement of knowledge, all of which are scientific duties owed to the populations of enlightened countries. Research in human health is enriched by comparing data from animal experiments with results from the analysis of human pathologies. The discovery of “mirror” neurons in monkeys made it possible to understand how our brains can perceive the emotions of others, fundamentally altering our approach to “Animal research is essential for understanding the ‘rules’ of living beings.” autism and schizophrenia. Experiments on monkeys have also led to the development of prostheses that, in the near future, will be thought-controlled. The study of electric fish and aplysia has shed light on certain mechanisms involved in human visual memory. In any event, we must take our fellow citizens’ reservations about animal experimentation into consideration. Their objections arise from increasing awareness that animals are sentient beings that must not be made to suffer. Yet public opinion is oblivious to the fact that ethical issues are central to animal research, which complies with strict regulations to ensure animal welfare and integrity. At this stage, biology cannot do away with animal experimentation. Researchers must reassure the general public that animals used in laboratories are treated with respect—for the sake of future scientific progress. 3 SPRING 2015 N° 37 INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE By Catherine Jessus, Director of the CNRS Institute of Biological Sciences (INSB) © DÉLÉGATION PMA


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