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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Animals are losing out under new laws that should protect them

Chairman of FRAME Trustees, Michael Balls, has reviewed progress in experimental design and implementation since the publication of Russell and Burch's landmark treatise in 1959 that first set out the idea of the Three Rs:  Replacement, Refinement and Reduction.


His findings are published in the latest edition of the charity’s journal ATLA (Alternatives to Laboratory Animals).  


He said: “No comprehensive analysis is needed for the conclusion to be drawn that far too little has been achieved. In fact there has been a relentless year-by-year increase in the numbers of laboratory animals used in the world.” The numbers continue to rise in spite of various laws introduced throughout Europe in the 1980s, although there have been some refinements that have improved the conditions under which experimental animals live. But Prof. Balls believes that the changes have been mainly to improve the image of animal experimentation and not for any genuine concern over welfare. 


He said: “My suspicion is that this was the intention all along, at least in scientific establishments — to make animal experimentation more respectable and therefore more acceptable, whilst emphasising its importance and praying that replacement for replacement’s sake would never catch on.” 


New European legislation, such as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and the 7th Amendment to the EU Cosmetics Directive, are unlikely to make any real improvements and could even create more demand for animal tests.  “We have reached a position where the implications of what is going on must be faced, if the gains which have been achieved step-by-step over the last 50 years are not to be lost in a sea of complexity.” 


In the ATLA editorial he sets out a list of 20 questions that he says must be answered to show what impact the new rules will have on science and commerce as well as animal welfare.



Read the full editorial here.


Archived August 19