Developments in the Collection of Statistical Information on the Number of Animals used in Experiments and other Scientific Purposes in the European Union
Ursula G. Sauer and Roman Kolar
In 1999, the European Commission presented its second report on the numbers of laboratory animals used in the European Union (EU). The plausibility of the data and the usefulness of the format of the registration tables remain questionable, for reasons previously discussed in connection with the Commission’s first statistical report. In addition, it is impossible to derive sound information on trends in animal use in the EU and its Member States from the second statistical report. The European Commission and the Member States have agreed on new tables to be used for future statistics on the use of experimental animals in the EU. These new tables have been significantly extended and improved. Several categories of little relevance have been revised, and ambiguous expressions have been clarified. However, several problems either persist or have been newly created. Moreover, some important data (i.e. categories for pain and distress, as well as for several specific purposes of use; the origin of some animal species; types of institutions; and the use of genetically engineered animals) are still not required. Nevertheless, these are highly relevant to animal welfare and must be regarded as indispensable for a well-aimed application of the statistics to set priorities concerning the Three Rs.
Directive 86/609/EEC on the Protection of Animals Used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes1
Directive 86/609/EEC regulates the use of animals for experimental and other scientific purposes in the EU. The Directive seeks to improve the controls on the use of laboratory animals, and to set minimum standards for housing and care, and for the training of personnel handling these animals and supervising the experiments. It also aims to reduce the numbers of animals used for experiments, by encouraging the development and the validation of alternative methods to replace animals methods. Since the scientific basis of the Directive dates back at least 15 years, the Commission is planning on an in-depth revision of the Directive. The Commission aims to have a first draft proposal ready by the end of 2003.
An Analysis of the Home Office Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 2004
Michelle Hudson and Nirmala Bhogal
The 2004 Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals were released by the Home Office in December 2005. They indicate that, for the third year running, there has been a significant increase in the number of laboratory animal procedures undertaken in Great Britain, and that increasing numbers of animals are involved. The overall trends in the use of toxicological and non-toxicological procedures involving animals are described. Particular emphasis is placed on the production and use of genetically modified animals, the production of biological materials, and acute toxicity testing. The use of non-human primates and dogs is also discussed. The implications of these latest statistics are consider
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 prompted the Government to evaluate how public understanding about the use of animals in scientific research can be improved and how animal experimentation is regulated within the UK. This resulted in the publication of anonymous project licence abstracts. Here, the abstracts published between December 2004 and October 2005 have been evaluated, by using a scoring system which takes into account their content and format, in order to assess whether they provide information that will facilitate the increased implementation of reduction, refinement and replacement strategies. The potential impact of freely-available Home Office project licence abstracts on public attitudes to animal testing and on the quality of animal-based research, is also discussed. Although some abstracts scored well, in general, the abstracts were found to be severely lacking in detail about the welfare of experimental animals. Thus, the abstracts tend to present a distorted picture of animal-based research. Many abstracts lack the details which would reveal how the licensing criteria had been met. It is concluded that, in their current form, the project abstracts are not sufficiently informative. A number of recommendations are made, which address this problem.
The EU Physical Agents (EMF) Directive and its Impact on MRI Imaging in Animal Experiments: A Submission by FRAME to the HSE
The EU Physical Agents (EMF) Directive, Directive 2004/40/EC, which threatens to greatly restrict the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in both clinical and research situations, will come into force on 30 April 2008. This could severely affect experimental animal welfare and scientific progress, as well as patient care. FRAME made a submission to a Health and Safety Executive round-table discussion about the Directive, held in January 2006, detailing concerns about the implications that the legislation would have on implementing the Three Rs in animal-based research and testing, and the subsequent consequences for animal welfare and the quality of scientific output. The submission is reproduced here, with additional comments on the outcome of the meeting and recommendations for further research into the consequences of the Directive.
Why do the Numbers of Laboratory Animal Procedures Conducted Continue to Rise? An Analysis of the Home Office Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005
The publication of the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals: Great Britain 2005 once again provides evidence that the levels of animal experimentation in Great Britain are rising, the underlying reason for this being the continued and increasing reliance on genetically modified animals as model systems. There has been a gradual increase in fundamental research, as applied toxicological studies have declined. Of particular concern is the impact that the forthcoming REACH legislation will have and the apparent lack of urgency in facing up to this challenge. The major issues arising from the Statistics are discussed, including the increases in rabbit and primate procedures. The potential of newly validated and emerging techniques to counteract these worrying trends are also considered.
The publication of the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2007 earlier this year, revealed once again that animal experimentation is on the up. This can mainly be attributed to the continuing use of genetically modified mice and an increased interest in investigations and tests involving fish. Here, some of the general trends are described, developments of interest are discussed, and the implications of the statistics are explored.
Some questions are answered concerning the origins of the Three Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) concept in relation to animal experimentation, expounded 50 years ago by Russell and Burch in The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, by reference to some key publications and to correspondence in the W.M.S. and Claire Russell Archive, which is currently being established at the University of Nottingham. Some insight is also given into the relationship between Russell and Burch, the first use of “alternatives” in the Three Rs context, and the background to the publication of the book.
Rex L. Burch
This is very much a personal interpretation of the Three Rs and the efforts by scientists connected with the more humane use of animals. It is intended to illustrate that scientists are given a job to do and, if it involves animals, they have little choice but to use them. It is also intended to illustrate that so many of those so involved are the very people who have made gigantic efforts in finding ways of replacing, reducing and/or refining techniques which require animals.