Government action to reduce the use of animal in scientific research

Posted on July 18, 2011 by

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In the agreement the coalition government made when they formed, they pledged to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. Today, they have launched a new programme led by the UK National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to start work on this.

Background

In the coalition agreement, the coalition government pledged to:

reduce the use of animals in scientific research and end the testing of household products on animals.

And last week, Martin Walsh, who is head of the Home Office’s animal scientific procedure division said that the government was planning to publish something on this before summer recess. Which meant this week as the house was due to rise tomorrow (although I’ve just seen that it is likely to be recalled for a further day on Wednesday to give more parliamentary time to discuss phone hacking..)

What’s happened?

On the list of written ministerial statements to be made today is:

22. Coalition agreement: Household product testing on animals and working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research (Home Department).

from Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone.

She is announcing a new programme, focused on reducing the use of animals in research, which will be led by the UK National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). NC3Rs was set up in 2004 as an independent organisation to both support the UK science base to replace, refine and reduce the use of animals in research and to fund research into replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research. So it is already working to reduce the use of animals in research and is a natural organisation to lead this new programme.

The new programme includes:

  • working to end the testing of household products on animals – there will be a period of consultation before any changes are made.
  • exploiting the latest developments in science and technology to continue to replace, refine and reduce the use of animals in research
  • facilitating data sharing and collaboration across industry and academia
  • providing an evidence base for changes to international regulations which require animal use.

This programme is being announced by the Home Office as they are responsible for regulating research using animals, but they are working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the science minister, David Willetts.

Dr Vicky Robinson, NC3Rs chief executive has welcomed the new programme.

 

…our work has shown that efforts to reduce animal use can also go hand in hand with better science and technology, providing researchers with new approaches to investigate human disease and ensure that medicines and chemicals are safe

What does this mean for medical research charities?

Medical research charities invest in research to develop new treatments for patients. Some of this research can’t be done without using animals. AMRC charities will only fund research using animals where their use is deemed absolutely necessary and there is no alternative. Their use  is rigorously regulated by UK legislation. AMRC members support work to find alternatives to research using animals and ensure that the use of animals is reduced as far as is possible so the announcement of this programme is very welcome.

 

Posted in: Policy