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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The Impact of the Introduction of the Ethical Review Process for Research Using Animals in the UK: Attitudes to Alternatives Among Those Working With Experimental Animals

Iain F.H. Purchase and Maria Nedeva

A postal questionnaire survey was carried out in late 1999 of those involved in working under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, namely the Certificate Holders, Project Licence Holders, Personal Licence Holders, Named Veterinary Surgeons, and Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers. The aim of the survey was to elicit views on the effectiveness of the introduction of the Ethical Review Process (ERP), introduced in April 1999. This report covers issues related to the use of alternatives, which were incorporated into the questionnaires. The number of returned questionnaires (45% of 1636 questionnaires) was sufficient for a meaningful analysis to be made of attitudes to the use of alternatives. In response to questions about the reason for the use of alternatives, more than 80% answered that alternatives should be used on moral or ethical grounds. Only about 50% of Certificate Holders and Licence Holders answered that alternatives were used because of legal requirements. Most respondents believed that replacement alternatives did not provide scientific information of equivalent value to that obtained from animal experiments. However, the majority also believed that it was possible to carry out valid scientific experiments by using replacement alternatives. The majority of Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers believed that the ERP had improved many aspects of refinement alternatives. In particular the “culture of care” had improved. Most establishments had a formal mechanism for discussing alternatives, although it was noteworthy that relatively few Personal Licence Holders believed this to be the case. In general, the majority of those working under the 1986 Act and most establishments seem to have a positive approach to the use of alternatives.