All experiments causing animal suffering should be replaced with humane alternatives.
Alternatives to animal experiments
Some of the humane alternatives to using animals in experiments:
- The use of isolated cells and tissues instead of live animals.
- Using computers and maths. Modelling bio processes and predict the effects of chemicals and drugs.
- Designing ways of doing experiments safely in human volunteers.
- Using simple organisms, such as bacteria, to study basic bio processes.
- Exploring advanced technologies. Using robotics, molecular techniques, tissue engineering and 'organs-on-microchips.'
- Not doing the experiment at all. We encourage greater thought of whether animal use could be avoided through a more critical ethical review.
Why it's difficult to replace animals
The potential for replacing animals depends on the nature and aim of each experiment. Humans can't be used in potentially harmful experiments. Isolated cells and tissues may not be able to give the whole picture of a complicated living system.
A better idea of the scientific barriers to animal replacement is needed. Research can't be directed at overcoming these without this. Scientists often have preferred ways of working. Changing their approach requires persuasion, increased advice and training in the use of alternatives.
Developing alternative methods, and showing that they work, also takes time and resources. What's more, many laws on product safety require information from animal tests. Getting these tests replaced takes time, especially when many countries are involved.
What we're doing to help lab animals
We're working closely with Eurogroup for Animals to reduce animal testing requirements in European laws. Ensuring more effort is put into developing legally accepted alternatives.
We're providing funding to InterNICHE. Helping their work on identifying and promoting the use of alternatives to animals in education. We also participate in the World Congresses on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences.
We promote the idea of animal replacement through our resources. Our report outlines the potential for implementing alternatives to the use of lab animals.
Follow these links to find out more about replacing animals in testing and research:
- Altweb - Alternatives to Animal Testing Website
- Animal Free Research UK - Replacing Animals in Medical Research
- FRAME - Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments
- NC3Rs - National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research
You may also like to have a read of our blog post on what we're doing to help wild animals used in vaccine tests.