Using ants for experiments: 'I don't know if they are in pain'

Using ants for experiments: ‘I don’t know if they are in pain’

Ant specialist Jetty Grothwes believes that using ants in medical science is not a bad move. He has ants as pets and has been searching for insects for years. “They are intelligent animals that can be used more efficiently and cheaper, for example, dogs,” he tells EditieNL.

long-term memory

Ants can be trained in a short time. That’s how they are according to Research Able to distinguish cancerous cells from healthy cells within thirty minutes. “They can develop long-term memory. If you do it right, it’s really fun and funny.”

insects in science

The ant is not the first insect to make itself useful in medical science. For example, honey bees are used to recognize aura. The larvae can clean wounds and use parasitic wasps and mosquitoes as inspiration for making hypodermic needles and surgical equipment.

Although there are also opponents, the use of science by insects is officially permitted. “They are not included in the rules for animal testing,” Groothuis explains. “There is increasing clarity about the high degree of intelligence in insects, but when does this turn into consciousness and when do they become pain? Those answers are not yet available.”

The Proefdiervrij organization is not keen on using ants in science. “We don’t yet know if insects are in pain, so we can’t assume they don’t feel anything,” says Saskia Ann, Proefdiervrij’s science and innovation consultant.

moral duty

Although studies on ants do not officially fall under animal testing, the organization opposes this. “Every form of tasting is a certain amount of discomfort. Just because we think an ant is less kind doesn’t mean it has fewer rights. We have a moral obligation to find out if it’s in pain first.”

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