Implementation of the revised European Directive EU86/609 on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes
The UK Government will have to bring in the necessary arrangements to implement the revised Directive, probably by January 2013.
It is widely accepted that the revised Directive strikes a good compromise between the scientific need to use animals in research and maintaining the welfare of animals used. The new Directive should be implemented in a way which maintains or improves protection for animals, while streamlining and minimising any unnecessary administrative burden.
The scientific community recognises public concern over the use of animals in research, and supports good regulation to protect them.
The existing regulatory system for animal research had become progressively more cumbersome and bureaucratic, causing unnecessary costs and delays to research, without commensurate benefit to animal welfare.
Considerable progress has been made in recent years on better regulation, and the UK bioscience sector has been pleased to help plan and implement improvements. But existing arrangements continue to impose a significant burden of paperwork. Modernisation should continue of the IT system for licensing and authorisation, and the level of detail required for licensing should be reviewed and minimised to that necessary for good animal welfare and regulatory requirements.
Freedom of Information
Project licences in the UK generally hold considerably more information than in any other EU country. Adequate protections are needed to maintain confidentiality for some of that information, which was never intended to be publicly available, to protect both intellectual property and personal safety.
The UK bioscience sector supports greater openness about animal research, but it is important that any regulatory system achieves a good balance with Freedom of Information.
Animal numbers and the three Rs
The number of animals used in research has risen in recent years. This is for a variety of reasons, not least because more research is being carried out to understand, prevent and treat human and animal diseases, and to protect the environment. Continued application of the three Rs - to reduce, refine and replace animal experiments wherever possible - is essential.