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The UK Government has outlined how it plans to "reduce, replace and refine" the use of animals in research.
The "three Rs" plan, operating across government departments, is part of a commitment to create a science-led approach to reduce the use of animals in the biosciences in Britain. Policy makers say that it aims to maintain the UK’s position as "the location of choice and a world leader in science and technology" by ensuring that "better science is delivered alongside the highest levels of welfare for animals used in research".
A new report from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Home Office, and the Department of Health, says that while the government recognises there is a continuing need for properly regulated and ethically conducted use of animals in scientific research, technological developments including massively increased computer power and wider scientific innovation are opening up opportunities for alternative approaches.
The government's delivery plan sets out three strategic priorities including advancing use of the "three Rs" within the UK, using international leadership to influence the uptake of the "three Rs" globally, and promoting an understanding and awareness about the use of animals where no alternatives exist.
The UK’s National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) has been leading the way in this area, and has already invested over £35 million to support the work. As a result, trials into cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, as well as toxicity testing, have all seen reductions in animal use.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:
“This delivery plan puts science at the heart of our commitment to work to reduce the use of animals in research. It highlights the important work our life sciences sector is doing to provide a package that is good for patients, animal welfare, the environment and the UK’s economic growth.
“Animals are only used when there are no suitable alternatives. But the results we get from research can transform lives and pave the way for new and ground breaking medical advances. By encouraging new cutting-edge approaches to science we will not only improve standards of animal welfare but also reduce costs to industry.”
Get the full picture from HEi-know: Briefing Report 124
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