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The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has today published a cross-departmental policy paper, Working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research, which recognises and supports the well-regulated use of animals in research where necessary, alongside the science-led approach to reduce their use. 

It is part of the Government commitment to maintain the UK as a global leader in science and technology, delivering benefits for people, animals and the environment, while maintaining high standards of animal welfare.

Professor Dominic Wells, chair of the Society of Biology’s Animal Science Group, said:
“We welcome this Government discussion of the importance of properly conducted and necessary animal research, and of their strong commitment to the 3Rs which we fully support. To continue to advance this strategy and maintain the UK’s leadership in this area Government support and investment is vital.”

The delivery plan has a strong focus on new and existing initiatives that will refine, replace and reduce the use of animals in research (known as the 3Rs). Non-invasive imaging, mathematical modelling and tissue engineering are among the new cutting-edge technologies that show great promise in assisting with these aims. The UK’s National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) has been leading the way in this field, by investing over £35 million and engaging with the scientific community right from the start.

The document also placed a strong emphasis on transparency, including to help to inform public dialogue on openness about the use of animals in research. The document refers especially to the Declaration of Openness and how the Government plan to build on this initiative that began within the science community. The progress towards a Concordat, building on the Declaration, aims to foster an environment of openness. The Society of Biology is one of a number of organisations taking part in its development, led by Understanding Animal Research (UAR).

At a press briefing this morning at the Science Media Centre journalists and press officers had an opportunity to question the Minister for Universities and Science Rt Hon David Willetts MP, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention Norman Baker MP, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport and Dominic Wells, Professor in translational medicine at the Royal Veterinary College.