Brussels, 24 May 2004
The UK Government has announced that it is to establish a national centre for research into the 3Rs of animal experiments - replacement, refinement and reduction.
Accompanying the new centre will be an increase in the annual budget for the 3Rs from 330,000 GBP (494,000 euro) to 660,000 GBP (987,000 euro). The government believes that now is the right time to establish a National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research on account of recent developments in science, which facilitate research into the 3Rs.
The centre will be responsible for developing a UK strategy for the implementation of the 3Rs, funding research that advances the 3Rs, providing advice on the 3Rs and animal welfare to the scientific community, and working with regulators on the acceptance of alternative methods.
A board, bringing together scientists, animal welfare groups, industry and the government will provide the centre's strategic vision and direction.
This attempt to include all stakeholders has not, however, been welcomed by all. Campaign groups which implacably reject the use of animals for scientific experiments will not be represented on the board. Many of these groups have a remit which does not allow them to participate in an organisation that funds animal experiments, and UK Science Minister Lord Sainsbury has already stipulated that the board must not become a debating ground.
The government argues that while replacement is the ultimate aim for the centre, 'for so long as the use of animals continues to be necessary, it is essential that every effort is made to minimise their use and improve welfare.'