Humane education and the debate on alternatives to harmful animal use for training is a relatively recent issue in Brazil. While animal use in secondary education has been illegal since the late 1970s, animal use in higher science education is widespread. However, alternatives to animal experiments in research and testing have recently received attention from the Government, especially after the first legislation on animal experiments was passed, in 2008. This article proposes that higher science education should be based on a critical and humane approach. It outlines the recent establishment of the Brazilian Network for Humane Education (RedEH), as a result of the project, Mapping Animal Use for Undergraduate Education in Brazil, which was recognised by the 2014 Lush Prize. The network aims to create a platform to promote change in science education in Brazil, starting by quantitatively and qualitatively understanding animal use, developing new approaches adapted to the current needs in Brazil and Latin America, and communicating these initiatives nationally. This paper explores the trajectory of alternatives and replacement methods to harmful animal use in training and education, as well as the status of humane education in Brazil, from the point of view of educators and researchers engaged with the network.
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To Be Credible, Success in “Reducing the Use of Animals in Scientific Research” Must Involve the Use of Fewer Animals
Much worthy effort on the Three Rs is under way in the UK, but its promise of a reduction in laboratory animal use will only be credible and laudable when the number of procedures and animals are progressively and permanently reduced.
How Long Must They Suffer? Success and Failure of our Efforts to End the Animal Tragedy in Laboratories
Scientific findings have revealed how much we have dramatically underestimated the intellectual, social and emotional capabilities of non-human animals, including their levels of self-consciousness and ability to suffer from psychological stress. In the 21st century, the field of animal ethics has evolved as a serious scientific discipline, and nowadays largely advocates that the way we treat animals, both legally and in practice, is morally wrong. Politics and legislation have reacted to these facts, to some extent, but neither current legislation nor current practice reflect the scientific and moral state-of-the-art. Too often, the will to change things is watered down in the decision-making process, e.g. in the drafting of legislation. In the field of animal experimentation there have been many genuine efforts by various players, to advance and apply the principles behind the Three Rs. However, the fundamental problem, i.e. the overall number of animals sacrificed for scientific purposes, has increased. Clearly, if we are serious about our will to regard animal experimentation as an ethical and societal problem, we have to put much more emphasis on addressing the question of how to avoid the use of animals in science. To achieve this goal, certain issues need to be considered: a) the present system of ethical evaluation of animal experiments, including testing for regulatory purposes, needs to be reformed and applied effectively to meet the legal and moral requirements; b) animal testing must be avoided in future legislation, and existing legislation has to be revised in that regard; c) resources from animal-based research have to re-allocated toward alternatives; and d) the academic curricula must be reformed to foster and integrate ethical and animal welfare issues.
A Step Forward in the Quality Control Testing of Inactivated Rabies Vaccines — Extensive Evaluation of European Vaccines by Using Alternative Methods to the In Vivo Potency Tests
Alexandre Servat, Sébastien Kempff, Valère Brogat, Estelle Litaize, Jean-Luc Schereffer and Florence Cliquet
The mouse challenge test still remains the reference method for the potency determination of human and animal inactivated rabies vaccines, and it is still widely used throughout the world. This test suffers from many disadvantages — it is expensive and time consuming, uses a large number of mice, causes significant animal distress, and suffers from high variability. Recently, the European Pharmacopoeia has recognised the use of a serological potency assay (SPA) as an alternative method to the challenge test. This new test is based on the determination of rabies neutralising antibody titres in vaccinated mice, by using the modified Rapid Fluorescent Focus Inhibition Test (mRFFIT). With the objective of adopting this new method for the batch release of inactivated rabies vaccines, we evaluated its performance on a large collection of rabies vaccines currently assessed in our laboratory. The Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralisation test (FAVNt) was used in parallel with the mRFFIT, and the results were compared to the mouse challenge test. Our results demonstrate that the SPA is capable of estimating the potency of vaccines formulated with a potency margin well above the minimum of 1IU/dose. For low potency vaccines, this new method demonstrated some limitations, due to the recurrent invalidation of the assay. We have also demonstrated the superior sensitivity of the FAVNt when compared to the mRFFIT, and the importance of minimising the risk of detecting non-responders in vaccinated mice.
Gilly Stoddart and Jeffrey Brown
The successful development and validation of non-animal techniques, or the analysis of existing data to satisfy regulatory requirements, provide no guarantee that this information will be used in place of animal experiments. In order to advocate for the replacement of animal-based testing requirements, the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd (PISC) liaises with industry, regulatory and research agencies to establish and promote clear paths to validation and regulatory use of non-animal techniques. PISC and its members use an approach that identifies, promotes and verifies the implementation of good scientific practices in place of testing on animals. Examples of how PISC and its members have applied this approach to minimise the use of animals for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation in the EU and testing of cosmetics on animals in India, are described.
The time has come to plan for a future where the Three Rs will have served their purpose, animal experimentation will have been consigned to history, and humane biomedical science in research, testing and education will have become the norm, for the benefit of humans and animals alike.
Wider Recommendations for Institutions made in the Brown Report Following the BUAV Investigation into the Use of Animals at Imperial College London
Katy Taylor and Michael Balls
In December 2013, a group of experts produced a report on the management of an animal unit at Imperial College London, following a BUAV investigation that found evidence of systematic failures in the care and monitoring of animals used in procedures there. The Brown Report looked at four areas: the animal welfare and ethical review body (AWERB); the operation of the unit; training; and overall culture. The report made 33 recommendations to improve practices at Imperial College, many of which were relevant to other institutions. In this report, we identify the recommendations that are applicable to all animal facilities, and redraft them as a checklist with supporting information to assist those reviewing their animal care policies. We support the Brown Report’s recommendation that institutions should have a vision statement and an action plan, as well as a ‘champion’ for the Three Rs. We encourage all institutions that use animals to, as a first step, review the performance of their animal units against this checklist.
The delivery of the UK Government's and Concordat's commitments to greater openness on animal research is eagerly awaited. Meanwhile, the questions raised by two studies on the use of animal tests to predict the toxic effects of drugs in humans should be answered. Procedures applied to protected laboratory animals, which may cause them pain, suffering, distress and or lasting harm, are only morally acceptable, and should only be legally permissible, if they are scientifically justifiable.
Vanessa C. Bones, Heloísa C. Clemente, Daniel M. Weary and Carla F.M. Molento
The use of laboratory animals is still common practice, but some uses can be replaced by alternative methods, such as Virus Isolation in Cell Culture (VICC) instead of the Mouse Inoculation Test (MIT) for rabies diagnosis. The objective of this work was to describe current rabies diagnosis methods in Brazil and other countries, and the constraints associated with replacing this use of mice with alternative methods. Nine out of 12 Brazilian and 14 out of 43 non-Brazilian respondents reported that they currently used the MIT. Respondents in countries other than Brazil, male respondents, and those already employing in vitro methods for rabies diagnosis, expressed higher levels of support for the use of alternatives. The most frequently reported constraints associated with the use of alternatives were lack of laboratory facilities, equipment and materials (cited 17 times by respondents), and lack of financial resources (cited 15 times). The results indicate that many laboratories continue to use mice for rabies diagnosis. The proportion of laboratories that use mice appears to be especially high in Brazil, despite animal protection laws and technical guidelines that favour the use of alternatives. The barriers to the adoption of alternative methods identified in the current study provide a basis for facilitating changes in Brazil and elsewhere.
Robert D. Combes and Michael Balls
In 2013, an undercover investigation by the BUAV raised serious concerns about the use, treatment and care of laboratory animals involved in regulated procedures at Imperial College, London. This led to an inquiry, set up by the college, which found deficiencies in the local ethical review process and a general lack of focus on the implementation of the Three Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction). The Three Rs concept is the foundation of UK and EU legislation, but surveys of the published literature show that lack of its adoption is widespread. In spite of numerous guidelines, publications and publicity material extolling the benefits of the Three Rs to both animals and science, as well as substantial advances in the development, validation, and deployment of mechanistically-based non-animal methods, many scientists prefer to use traditional animal-based approaches. In addition, such scientists tend to pay less attention than they should to strategic planning, experimental design and the choice of appropriate statistical procedures. They are often unaware of the existence of replacement test methods to address all or some of their objectives, and are reluctant to develop and use new replacement methods. We explore some possible reasons for these shortcomings. We summarise the welfare and scientific effects of each of the Three Rs, and argue that: a) there is an urgent need for evidence to be made readily accessible to prospective licensees, which directly demonstrates the beneficial effects on animal welfare of the implementation of the Three Rs, separately and in combination, and the direct link this has with the quality of the scientific data obtained; b) a detailed systematic review of this evidence should be undertaken to augment the inadequate content of the prescribed Module 5 licensee training offered currently in the UK; c) such training (including that suggested in new EU-wide proposals) should be much more comprehensive, with stronger emphasis on the Three Rs, all parts of the syllabus should be fully examined, and there should be no exemptions from Module 5 training; and d) as the responsible Government department in the UK, the Home Office should take measures to tighten up its guidance for local ethical review, and its system of inspection of designated establishments, to obviate the justification for future undercover investigations.