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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The European Science Foundation: Three Rs Policy and Education


Bert F.M. van Zutphen

The European Science Foundation (ESF) has adopted a position paper on the use of animals in research. In this document, the ESF sets out its view on conditions that must be met to make the use of animals morally acceptable. The ESF explicitly states that laboratory animals have an intrinsic value that must be respected. The consequences of recognising the intrinsic value have been elaborated in the position paper and include, among others, that ESF Member Organisations are encouraged to endorse the reduction, refinement and replacement principles. Prior to the performance of an animal experiment, the protocol should be subjected to independent expert review, including the weighing of the likely benefit versus the likely animal suffering. Also, the development and organisation of accredited courses on laboratory animal science, including information on animal alternatives, welfare and ethics, are encouraged. The Council of Europe and the Federation of Laboratory Animal Science Associations have issued recommendations as to the education and training of persons involved in animal-based research. The ESF guidelines are in line with these recommendations. The recommendations are explained, and some details on the implementation in The Netherlands are presented.