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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Comments on the sixth report of the animal welfare advisory committee.

Vaughan, S.

ATLA, 31, 207212 (2003).

The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) was established in July 1996, to consider the care, welfare and use of animals involved in procedures for defence research purposes at Defence and Evaluation Research Agency (DERA) establishments in the UK. Two of the objectives of AWAC are to examine the broad trends in animal use at DERA establishments, and to implement and audit the application of the Three Rs principle. AWAC.s sixth report addressed the period from 31 October 2000 to 28 February 2002. The statistics of animal use within the report are briefly examined, and some of the actions undertaken by defence research establishments to facilitate the application of the Three Rs are highlighted. It is recommended that, if possible (subject to security constraints), figures detailing the severity of the procedures undertaken should be included in future issues of the report, in order to provide a more-detailed account. It is concluded that Defence Science and Technology Laboratory establishments have made a contribution to the Three Rs, and that other establishments may be able to incorporate some of their actions into their own research programmes. There was an overall 36% increase in the number of procedures carried out by defence research establishments between 1995 and 2000, from 8,900 to 12,065. This probably reflects alterations in the research programme, which is, in turn, decided primarily by the Ministry of Defence.s customers and the progress made with previous research programmes. It is therefore recommended that the UK Government allocates significantly more financial resources for the development and validation of alternatives, in order to maximise the potential for achieving the Three Rs in defence research, and to complement the existing initiatives within the defence research industry.