Animal Experiments Are Necessary, But Government And Industry Should Do More To Develop Non-animal Alternatives

A Lords report published today by the Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures found that animal experiments are currently necessary to develop human and veterinary medicine, and to protect humans and the environment. However, the report says that more should be done to fund and promote “alternative” methods known as the Three Rs – reduction, refinement and replacement. This is important for both human health and animal welfare. The Committee recommends setting up research units on the Three Rs integrated into existing centres of research excellence.

The report notes that while the UK has the tightest system of regulating animal experiments in the world, the regulations have become unnecessarily bureaucratic. The Committee makes recommendations to streamline the licensing process. This should help science and industry, while safeguarding animal welfare. The Committee considers that the UK should strive not for the tightest regulation, but for the best regulation, properly enforced.

The Committee recommends that good quality information on what animal experiments are done and why, should be made public. The report calls on the Government to repeal Section 24 (the “confidentiality clause”) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Smith of Clifton said:

“Animal experiments are still needed, but more could be done to find new methods of research and testing which don’t involve animals. There is also too much bureaucracy which hampers scientific research and can harm animal welfare. Our recommendations, together with a much greater openness about what animal experiments are done and why, should help to create a better balance between the legitimate needs of science and the care and welfare of animals.”

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Anim. in Scient. Proced.Comm. AlphaGalileo 2002

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