Plenary lecture: Trends in Animal Use and Animal Alternatives
Paul De Greeve, Wim De Leeuw and Bert F.M. van Zutphen
The Third World Congress (1999, Bologna) celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Russell & Burch’s The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. There was the general notion that the Three Rs offer a unifying concept that contributes to a progressive reduction and refinement in animal use without compromising the quality of research, human health or the protection of the environment. The Bologna Three Rs Declaration was accepted unanimously, calling upon all parties involved to incorporate the Three Rs into animal-based research. The question is raised, what progress has been made and, in particular, what are the developments in animal use and in the implementation of validated alternative methods. For the present contribution, we requested colleagues from European countries, Canada and the United States to provide information on the numbers of animals currently used for scientific purposes, on the development and implementation of alternative methods and on future perspectives about the issues. Based on the results of this survey, the conclusion is reached that legislative regulations are widely implemented and have become rather strict during the last decade. An exception here is the legislative regulation for rats, mice and birds in the USA. These species are not (yet) protected by the US Animal Welfare Act. The number of animals used has decreased considerably, and the review of protocols by animal ethics committees has become a significant trend. In all countries, there is growing support for the Three Rs concept.