Replace, Reduce, Refine
Animal welfare is at the core of the concerns of research actors, and new regulations to control and limit the use of animal experiments have emerged in recent years.
These regulations respect the 3Rs principle:
- Replace : if the subject of the study allows it, replace experimentation in vivo with experiments on tissues or cells grown in vitro. When in vitro experiments are not possible (for example, in the case of a study of the impact of a molecule on an entire organism), the substitution of a sensitive organism by a organism known less sensitive to the conditions of experimentation is preferred ;
- Reduce : the number of animals used for the experiment is determined before the protocol, and should correspond to the strict minimum necessary to validate the study ;
- Refine : Develop techniques to improve the living conditions of laboratory animals, as well as to reduce their stress and pain.
Directive 2010/63 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union defines the regulatory framework for the application of scientific work involving animal experimentation.
Based on Directive 2010/63 of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, Decree 2013-118 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes is the reference text in France.
Five more decrees have been added regarding :
- Laboratory animals furniture conditions ;
- The training of personnel in establishments supplying, breeding and using laboratory animals ;
- The conditions for the approval, layout and operation of these establishments ;
- Ethical evaluation and authorisation of projects involving the use of animals in experimental procedures ;
- Use of drugs on animals used for scientific purposes ;
French associations on animal welfare in Science
- The French Association of Laboratory Animal Science and Technology (AFSTAL) brings together people working in all fields related to laboratory animals (zootechnicians, technicians, biologists, breeders…) and wants to answer current questions about animal experimentation. AFSTAL also offers exchange days (Com’Tech, Com’Vet, Com’Prim) that can be used for the continuous training of personnel handling animals ;
- Gircor has for mission to inform the public about the real conditions of the use of animal experimentation in biomedical research work ;
- The Association for Experimental Research and Protection of Laboratory Animals (OPAL) promotes and supports any action in favour of laboratory animals welfare and respect, like the development of alternatives methods of study ;
- FRANCOPA is the French platform dedicated to the development, validation and dissemination of alternative methods in animal experimentation. It is part of the Groupement d’intérêt scientifique (GIS) – GIS “alternative methods”. Its purpose is to promote the implementation of alternative methods to reduce or eliminate the use of laboratory animals, particularly in the development, evaluation and control of health products and chemical substances.