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August 22, 2011

Resolution Presented at International Forum Calling on Research Institutions to Develop Animal Testing Alternatives

Periodic Progress Reports Sought

Humane Society International

A resolution calling for research institutions around the world to develop and publicize strategies to replace, reduce and refine their use of animals in experimentation is being presented for endorsement to attendees at a prominent scientific conference. Each year, more than 100 million animals worldwide are bred, injected, infected, cut open, genetically altered and force-fed drugs and chemicals for the purposes of scientific research, product testing and education.

“The resolution provides an opportunity for research institutions to be pro-active and transparent in their efforts to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in experimentation,” according to Martin Stephens, Ph.D., vice president for animal research issues at The Humane Society of the United States. “In addition to their obvious animal welfare advantages, alternative methods often also have scientific, public health or practical advantages.”

The resolution is being presented at the 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, held August 22-25 in Montréal. The World Congress is the premier forum for scientists, animal advocates and others to discuss both the current status of alternatives for animal use in research, testing and education, as well as future prospects for advancing these methods.

An editorial published in February 2011 by the prominent scientific journal Nature was the inspiration for the resolution. The editorial called on research institutions to develop and publicize, as a priority, “strategies to replace animals with more sophisticated research tools, refine research practice and reduce the overall number of animals used.” The concept of replacing, reducing and refining animal use is known internationally as the 3Rs.

The resolution also asks research institutions, including universities, companies and government agencies, to issue reports on progress in implementing their 3Rs strategies.

Facts:

•    Replacement alternatives are non-animal research methods such as tissue culture and computer models. For example, after years of pressure from The HSUS, the manufacturers of Botox (the popular anti-wrinkle product) recently announced that they had developed a new cell-based procedure to replace the use of mice in assessing the potency of new batches of the product. 

•   Reduction alternatives are modifications of procedures that allow fewer animals to be used without loss of scientific value.  For example, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development recently announced the adoption of a new test guideline that reduces the number of animals used in a reproductive toxicity testing by up to 70 percent. 

•    Refinement alternatives are modifications in procedure that lessen animal suffering or otherwise enhance animal welfare.  For example, a recent report on studying human diseases in mice describes the ability to use a laparoscopic method of placing a thin tube through a small abdominal incision (commonplace in human surgery), instead of the usual procedure of cutting a large opening into the mouse’s abdominal cavity—thereby decreasing the mouse’s pain, and associated trauma to surrounding tissues, improving recovery time and decreasing death rates.

Media Contacts

HSUS and HSI: Anna West, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC, United States 20037, Tel: 301-258-1518, awest@humanesociety.org

Eurogroup: Martyn Griffiths 6 rue des Patriotes, B - 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Tel. 32 (0)2 740 08 23, Mobile: 32 487 645 486, m.griffiths@eurogroupforanimals.org

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