Application of the 3Rs Principles for Animals Used for Experiments at the Beginning of the 21st Century.

Annamaria Passantino


In 1986 the Council of Europe adopted Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes, which seeks to improve the controls on the use of laboratory animals, to set minimum standards for their housing and care, and addresses in broad terms the training of personnel handling animals and supervising experiments. It also aims at replacing animals with non-animal methods wherever possible, as well as encouraging the development and validation of such replacement methods. Where animals have to be used, the Directive aims to ensure that it is only the minimum number, and that any animal suffering is the minimum necessary to achieve the scientific objective i.e. avoidable suffering should not be caused. In view of the important progress made in science at the beginning of the 21st century, of the new techniques now available and of the increased sensitivity regarding animal rights, an updating of the Directive appears indispensable. In particular, it has become increasingly apparent that the Directive needs to be revised in order to promote improvements in the welfare of laboratory animals and to further encourage the development of alternative methods. In this paper the need to introduce more severe criteria in laboratory experiments on animals, taking ethical aspects into account (specifically the application of the Three Rs principle), is explained.
Among the solutions that could improve the control of experimental activity, there could be a cross-check control, made every year, of the number of animals used by the authorized research structures and the number indicated in their scientific output.

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