New plan to reduce the use of animals in research

Here in Britain, scientists’ use of lab animals is very tightly constrained (my tag ‘lab animal’.) But we want to ‘Replace, Reduce and Refine the Use of Animals in Research’. The Three Rs.

Our Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) wants to maintain our good performance in business while improving how we work the Three Rs. Last week BIS published its strategy about animal research.

Here are the Society of Biology‘s comments on the BIS strategy. That Society reminds us of the Declaration of Openness signed by the leaders of many Universities and Institutes who ‘commit to work together to establish a Concordat that will develop principles of openness, practical steps and measurable objectives which will underpin a more transparent approach to animal research.’ I don’t think that Concordat has been published yet. When I see it, I’ll show you.

My favourite sources of information about lab animals are Understanding Animal Research (UAR) and Animal Research Information (ARI). In the spirit of openness I’ll tell you now that I’m writing for ARI. When in due course my words appear there, they’ll bear my real name which is Dr Sam Mason.

About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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9 Responses to New plan to reduce the use of animals in research

  1. Finn Holding says:

    Hello Sam, good post, but what I’d like to know is: does the BIS strategy mean to reduce the use of laboratory animals globally or just in the UK?

    I think the stringent control of animal experimentation in the UK is laudable, but the inevitable consequence of that level of regulation is that the costs can be prohibitive. And that in turn results in animal studies being outsourced to countries which are far less well regulated, such as China and the US. And there are any number of sources describing the iniquities of animal husbandry methods in those countries.

    So in order to make a real difference and simultaneously ensure scientific validity this issue needs to be adressed globally. Otherwise, I fear, not much can change for the better.

    • argylesock says:

      Yes indeed. I’m sure you know scientists who have outsourced some experiments to other countries, to take advantage of lower welfare standards. I know a few such!

      But the BIS strategy considers this point in some detail. It says, ‘An international effort to address this dilemma lies in the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) which aims to reach agreement between Europe, the USA and Japan for revised pharmaceutical safety testing guidelines which minimise the use of animals. ICH has also granted observer status to many other countries – and these are encouraged to adopt the revised guidelines once agreed. The International Cooperation on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Veterinary Medicinal Products (VICH) fulfils a similar function for veterinary medicines…

      ‘At an international level, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) sets out the standards which must be satisfied to give assurances of safety, and to permit international transport of bulk chemicals. Significant efforts are being made by OECD (e.g. the Adverse Outcomes Pathways initiative) to enable sharing of the massive amounts of data being generated globally following testing on animals on the toxicity of environmental chemicals, and to ensure future practices to safeguard our environment are based upon best practices and minimising the use of animals as much as possible…

      ‘The NC3Rs [National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research] operates both domestically and internationally as an independent organisation. It has established a strong record of effective interactions with both academia and industry to promote alternative methods based upon sound scientific evidence.’

      Thank you for challenging the BIS strategy, and me. I want to learn more detail as I become one of the voices of ARI.

      • Finn Holding says:

        Hello Sam, I didn’t know so much effort was being put into this. It’s really good to hear!

        • argylesock says:

          Yes it is. Including the fact that scientists who do animal work are now taking a stand in favour of being allowed to do such work without lies, sabotage or violence. As a senior scientist remarked in a lecture about this, the hardcore anti-vivs aren’t going to change their minds. But there are many people who want to know the truth and think in their own ways.

          As you know this is personal for me. I take a drug which was developed and tested using animals. The only ways I’ll come off that drug are a) because a better one gets approved by NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, in case anybody reading this thread doesn’t know what NICE stands for] or b) because my health worsens enough that my neuro changes my diagnosis.

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