Views On The 3Rs, Survey Report – 2008
The NC3Rs has conducted a survey of personal and project license holders working under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The aim was to find the level of understanding and support for the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) and barriers to implementation. [Excerpted from website]
According to these survey results, there is a generally strong understanding of the definitions of the 3Rs, although there is some confusion over the definition of refinement, with 52% of scientists incorrectly defining it as improving experiments to yield better data. Additionally, 29% of respondents incorrectly defined “replacement” as “Replacing ‘higher’ mammals with ‘lower’ mammals.”
Correct definitions of replacement identified by respondents:
- Replacing animals with in vitro techniques (83%)
- Redesigning experiments in order to avoid the use of animals (80%)
- Replacing animals with computer modeling techniques (72%)
- Replacing vertebrates with invertebrates (24%)
Concerning implementation and the perceived impact on research, most scientists (82%) felt that the implementation of the 3Rs would not be detrimental to the quality of their results, but a strong majority (73%) also believes that the complete replacement of animals in research and testing will never be achieved.
In terms of relevance, 43% consider all three Rs to be equally relevant to their work. Of the remaining respondents, replacement was considered more relevant by 5%. Regarding overall impact, some scientists consider the Ethical Review Process (ERP) helpful in replacing (31%), reducing (42%), or refining (46%) the use of animals in research.
Respondents indicated that they have developed techniques according to the 3Rs including ones that reduce (34%) or refine (30%) the use of animals. A lack of scientific or technological innovation is considered the main obstacle to implementing the 3Rs by about one-third of scientists. Three-fourths (77%) of scientists who design experiments indicate that nothing would allow them to address their research objectives without the use of animals, but 20% believe that alternatives would achieve research objectives without the use of animals.