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Online Seminar Series: Turning apples into oranges - Towards a transparent methodology for the harm-benefit analysis


Univ. Prof. Dr. Herwig Grimm (Head of the Department Ethics and Human-Animal Studies at the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna) was adressing the pros and cons of various approaches to the harm-benefit analysis (HBA) in the fifth talk of our online seminar series. Comparing the main arguments of both metric and the discourse model he outlined a strategy how one could combine these strategies to facilitate evaluation.

Animal research is required to comply with the 3Rs and to serve scientific purposes in order to be ethically acceptable. However, project evaluation required by Directive 2010/63/EU and corresponding national legislation of EU member states requires a harm–benefit analysis that takes ethical considerations into account as an additional requirement.
Hence, projects can only be approved, if there is a positive balance when the expected harm is weighed against the expected benefits. Two models, the discourse model and the metric model, were introduced to carry out this task (cf. Grimm, H./Olsson, A./Sandoe, P. 2018). The talk addresses the background and pros and cons of the two methods first. Second, it will be argued that besides all methodological problems of the models, the legal requirement of „taking ethical considerations into account“ can be translated into the question as to whether animal use for scientific purposes can be considered an exception or remains the unquestioned standard. This will be summarized as the move from a „Yes, but…“to a „No, but…“ position in animal research.


Univ. Prof. Dr. Herwig Grimm

Messerli Research Institute
Head of Department Ethics and Human-Animal Studies
Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Wien

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Gesellschaft zur Förderung von Alternativen
Biomodellen (The 3R Society)
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