A major British report into animal experimentation has concluded that testing should be reduced, even though it acknowledges that it has helped in significant medical and scientific breakthroughs. Unfortunately, after two years of study, the working group which produced the report for the Nuffield Council of Bioethics failed to reach a united conclusion.
Two points of common ground were a “3 R” approach to animal testing — refinement, reduction and replacement of animals in research — and agreement that the testing of new drugs on animals would not end quickly. The Blair Government has already announced a ?3 million budget for the new National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research.
“A world in which the important benefits of such research could be achieved without causing pain, suffering, distress, lasting harm or death to animals involved in research must be the ultimate goal,” the report said.
About 2.72 million animals were used in scientific experiments in the UK in 2003. The report called for greater transparency about statistics. “It might be hard to find a good example where so much work goes into collecting so much data that is so uninformative,” says Dr Timothy Morris, the head of animal ethics and welfare at GlaxoSmithKline and one of the authors of the report.
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