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UK Bioscience Coalition position on the European Directive on animal research

24 September 2011

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Category: Policy Issues

crown–icon.jpgThe UK Bioscience Sector Coalition

Animal research is vitally important in science and medicine. The incorporation of new European regulations into UK law (transposition) will define how animal research is regulated in the UK. The UK Bioscience Sector Coalition, which represents the UK's key bioscience organisations involved with the use of animals in scientific and medical research, views the transposition as an opportunity to enhance high animal welfare standards while also promoting a strong bioscience research environment.

We also wish to see a continued emphasis on further replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in research (3Rs), while encouraging high quality bioscience. We believe that such principles will lead to valuable research innovations and real benefits for both people and animals.

Bioscience and animal welfare in the UK

A robust bioscience research environment needs to be supported by an animal research capability that ensures animal welfare without undermining the UK's attractiveness as a location for scientific and medical research. We would like to see controls harmonised across Europe, except where there is evidence that the current UK standards provide a greater level of animal welfare.

UK bioscience is one of the country's strengths and provides an opportunity for economic growth through inward investment, employment opportunities, the creation of start up companies and both public and private alliances. This investment means that the UK can support more high quality research focused on improving health and well-being for patients and society as a whole. In the 12 years to 2009, expenditure on biomedical research in the UK more than doubled. A similar increase in the number of animal procedures over the same period has not been seen. Instead, an increase of only a third has taken place, indicating the effectiveness of the implementation of the 3Rs- legislation requires scientists to use other methods to answer research questions without animals where these alternatives exist. There are some areas where scientific questions cannot yet be answered without animals - such as where we need to find out the effect of a treatment on the whole living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts - and therefore total replacement of animal research is not an option.

UK Bioscience Coalition Response

In summary, the UK Bioscience Sector Coalition wishes to see the new regulations promote both good science and animal welfare and be consistent, effective and efficient so that high quality research is supported and the public can be confident that animal research is properly regulated. We wish to see a flexible system of regulation that allows innovation and development.

David Reynolds, Chair of the UK Bioscience Sector Coalition said "The UK bioscience sector is rightly proud of its leading position in global bioscience research and its reputation for high animal welfare standards. We wish to ensure that the UK retains its position in both respects."

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