Soon no medical animal experiments?

Although the EU Directive on the protection of laboratory animals aims for complete abandonment of animal testing, Member States have discretion in implementing it and there is no question that animal testing is used in basic research and to protect the environment and human healthand animal are still necessary. However, the 3R strategy( replace, reduce, refine) of the EU directive should lead to significant improvements in the protection of laboratory animals. However, in the opinion of the BfR, urgent intensification of the research efforts is necessary in order to objectively record the suffering of the animals and to develop alternatives to the animal experiments.

The renunciation of animal experiments and a better protection of laboratory animals are urgently required, but this requires significantly increased research efforts.(Image: Sven Hoppe / fotolia.com) The abandonment of animal experiments and a better protection of laboratory animals is urgently required, but this requires significantly increased research efforts.(Image: Sven Hoppe / fotolia.com)

Objectively measuring the pain and suffering of laboratory animals
According to the 3R principle of the EU directive, animal experiments will in future be replaced or significantly reduced. In places where they are still irreplaceable, a significant improvement in terms of animal welfare is provided. This includes a reduction in the number of experimental animals needed, but also a reduction in the suffering of the animals in the experiments. However, according to BfR President Professor Dr. med. Dr. Andreas Hensel "no scientific clarity as to how changes in the physiological state of animals can be objectively measured and how these changes can be related to the extent of pain, suffering or harm caused thereby." A first scientific contribution to the assessment of burdensIn the case of genetically modified fish, BfR researchers have now published together with other experts in the journal "The EMBO Journal".

freedom in the implementation of the EU Directive
The European Union has adopted a directive for the protection of laboratory animals, which allows some freedom in implementation instead of a strictly binding regulation. In the opinion of the BfR, the member states are given the necessary flexibility to transpose the objectives of the directive into national law. In Germany, the amended Animal Protection Act and the Animal Protection Test Animal Ordinance came into force in 2013.However, the regulations issued in the course of implementation by the German legislator must now be put into practice and interpreted in legal terms, emphasizes the BfR in its current communication. Although the indefinite legal terms are necessary to take new scientific findings into account at all times. But these findings should now be delivered.

Close collaboration between different disciplines
BfR believes that "experts in science, veterinary medicine and law, with the support of the competent authorities, must work together more closely to establish and implement standards for the implementation of the new legislation."The close cooperation between the various specialist disciplines is becoming ever more important in order to establish the new legislation and, as a result, a common culture of care in dealing with experimental animals in practice. In addition, further research efforts are needed to promote alternatives to animal testing and experimental animal research. The BfR has also published corresponding proposals in the journal "The EMBO Journal" as well as in the trade magazine "EMBO Reports".

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BfR describes the possible cooperation between the various disciplines as follows: Jurisprudence can propose the definitions of the corresponding terms for those who apply the legal requirements. Scientists and physicians can contribute to the objective measurement of animal welfare through their expertise, and licensing and regulatory authorities are required to incorporate the recommendations of science into their enforcement tasks, as appropriate."In order to strengthen animal welfare, all disciplines involved should work together to find a solution," concludes the BfR.(fp)

Complete abandonment of animal testing a distant target
Animal experiments are relatively widespread in medical research to date, although there are increasing reservations among the population about such trials, given the suffering they experience. In a recent communication, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment( BfR) recommends urgently pursuing further research on the protection of laboratory animals and thus taking into account the relevant EU directive as well as the amended German Animal Welfare Act and the Animal Protection Test Animal Ordinance.

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