Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1339–1355 | Cite as

To Regulate or Not to Regulate? The Future of Animal Ethics in Experimental Research with Insects

  • Christopher B. FreelanceEmail author
Original Paper


Regulatory ethical frameworks governing animal experimentation are a hallmark of modern biology. While most countries have ethical standards regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes, experiments involving insects are not included in these standards. With studies in recent years suggesting that insects may possess faculties akin to emotive states, there is growing discussion surrounding the ethical implications of scientific experimentation involving insects. This paper explores some of the current evidence for the ability of insects to experience emotive states and highlights how current formal animal experimentation ethics frameworks are unnecessary for governing the use of insects for scientific purposes. At its conclusion, this paper discusses ways in which scientists can, and should, uniformly maximise the welfare of insects used in their experiments in a way that is of benefit to their science as well as to the dignity and welfare of their study organisms.


Animal welfare Insects Ethics 3Rs 



The author thanks Mark Elgar and Kathrine Handasyde from The University of Melbourne and Sally Sherwen, Sarah Frith and Kate Pearce from Zoos Victoria for insightful discussions that improved the manuscript. The author is grateful to Bob Wong from Monash University for comments on a draft of the manuscript. No funding was received for this work. The author is supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BioSciencesThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.The Bronowski Institute of Behavioural NeuroscienceColiban Medical CentreKynetonAustralia

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