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ecopa: A Powerful Concept in the Way Forward for Alternative Methods

Vera Rogiers

ecopa, the European Consensus-Platform on Alternatives, is an international not-for-profit organisation, based in Belgium and complying with Belgian Law. It is the only quadripartite organisation that promotes the Three Rs at the European level. Ecopa brings together national consensus platforms on alternative methods. Consensus means that all parties concerned are represented, including animal welfare, industry, academia and government. Ecopa currently includes the National Platforms of 14 EU Member States (or future Member States; eight full members, namely, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, and six associate members, being the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Poland and Sweden). Ecopa also has three working groups, concerned with: a) the 6th Framework Programme of the EC for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities; b) the EC White Paper Strategy for a Future EU Chemicals Policy; and c) the formation of educational programmes on alternative methods within the EU. Ecopa is thus uniquely placed and has huge expertise to offer to the debate around political topics, including the White Paper, the 6th Framework Programme, and the 7th Amendment of the EU Cosmetics Directive. Ecopa should be considered a key stakeholder by the European Commission and Parliament, and it is essential that the views of ecopa are fully incorporated into future legislation. Recently, the ecopa working groups made a strong common statement on the Chemicals Policy White Paper and made a number of recommendations to the Commission based on scientific, practical and realistic grounds. These are to be found on the ecopa Web site (http://ecopa.tsx.org/ or http://ecopa.vub.ac.be).
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Reduction Strategies in Animal Research: A Review of Scientific Approaches at the Intra-experimental, Supra-experimental and Extra-experimental Levels

Jasmijn de Boo and Coenraad Hendriksen

When discussing animal use and considering alternatives to animals in biomedical research and testing, the number of animals required gets to the root of the matter on ethics and justification. In this paper, some reduction strategies are reviewed. Many articles and reports on reduction of animal use focus mostly on the experimental level, but other approaches are also possible. Reduction at the intraexperimental level probably offers the greatest scope for reduction, as the design and statistical analysis of individual experiments can often be improved. Supra-experimental reduction aims to reduce the number of animals by a change in the setting in which a series of experiments take place — for example, by improved education and training, reduction of breeding surpluses, critical analysis of test specifications, and re-use of animals. At the extra-experimental level, reduction is a spin-off of other developments, rather than the direct goal. Through improved research or production strategies, aimed at better quality, consistency and safety, reduction in the number of animals used can be substantial. A revised definition of reduction is proposed, which does not include the level of information needed, as in some cases reduction in the number of animals resulting in less information or data, is still acceptable.
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The Use of Non-Human Primates in Biological and Medical Research: Evidence Submitted by FRAME to the Academy of Medical Sciences/Medical Research Council/Royal Society/Wellcome Trust Working Group

Nirmala Bhogal, Michelle Hudson, Michael Balls and Robert D. Combes

The Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council, the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust are undertaking a study into the use of non-human primates in biological and medical research. An independent working group of scientific experts, led by Sir David Weatherall, aims to produce a report summarising the findings of this study, early in 2006. The trends in primate research, and the nature and effects of recent and proposed changes in the global use of non-human primates in research, will be investigated. The associated ethical, welfare and regulatory issues, and the role and impact of the Three Rs principles of refinement, reduction and replacement will also be reviewed. As part of this study, a call for evidence was made. The evidence submitted by FRAME emphasised that the use of non-human primates for fundamental research or for regulatory testing still fails to take into account the fact that, although non-human primates are anatomically and physiologically similar to humans, they are not necessarily relevant models for studies on human disease or human physiology. FRAME continues to believe that we have a duty to ensure that these animals are not used without overwhelming evidence that they are the only suitable and elevant models for use in work of undeniable significance.
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The Perception of Students on the Use of Animals in Higher Education at the Federal University of Paraná, Southern Brazil

Bernardo G.F. Deguchi, Carla F.M. Molento and Carlos E.P. de Souza

The use of animals in education and research is a controversial issue that involves ethical considerations. In Brazil, Act 11,794, which was approved in 2008, established the National Council on the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA) and a database of institutions that use animals for research and education (CIUCA). This legislation also set out the regulations for the use of animals. In this study, we have evaluated the ethical issues involved in the use of animals for educational purposes at the Federal University of Paraná, through a qualitative–quantitative analysis that relied on written questionnaires. Our objective was to find out the opinions of students and staff from different academic fields, and at different stages in their professional development, on the use of animals for educational purposes. The study involved 101 students and 20 lecturers (i.e. tenure-track professors and all those who teach the students) in Biology, Pharmacology, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. Approximately half of the students (45.5%) did not know the legislation that regulates the use of animals in education, and most of the lecturers believed that learning goals could not be achieved with alternative methods. Only 38.9% of the lecturers and 31.9% of the students trusted the usefulness of alternative methods. Furthermore, recent graduates were as unaware of the legislation, as were students in the first two years of their university courses. These results suggest that it is necessary to considerably expand the discussion on alternatives to animal use in the academic environment.

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