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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Editorial: Opportunities for the Government to Actively Promote the Three Rs during the UKs Presidency of the European Union (1 July to 31 December 2005)

Robert Combes and Michael Balls

On the 1 July 2005, the UK took over the Presidency of the European Union for six months. This is a most important time with regard to laboratory animal experimentation, as there are significant opportunities to bring about changes for the better. Revisions of the current EU Directive 86/609/EEC (which specifically requires that alternatives should be used whenever they are reasonably and practicably available), and also of the technical appendices to the Council of European Convention ETS 123 (which relate to the care and accommodation of animals), are well under way. We have identified some important issues for the attention of those responsible for the ASPA and for the UK’s responsibilities under the Directive and the Convention (Table 1). We discuss these issues below, and suggest how the UK could take the lead in ensuring that they are actively addressed. Failure to grasp these opportunities will result in a real danger that poor and old-fashioned science will continue to be undertaken as a basis for developing cures for diseases, and products of various kinds will be less safe and effective than they could be, despite the pain and suffering caused to many laboratory animals through traditional test procedures.