Policy on the use of animals in research

At IFR, where improving diet and health in people has such a high profile, small numbers of animals are used in research. Until satisfactory alternatives have been developed, the processes of discovery and enquiry require procedures involving animals in order to gain a knowledge and understanding of physiological and pathological processes.

Scientists at IFR, in common with many other researchers, are constantly seeking ways to find alternatives or to reduce the number of animals needed for their research. However, ‘alternative’ tests and models have yet to be developed that can properly reproduce the complex biological characteristics of man and animals.

In the UK, research and teaching activities involving animals considered to be sentient are governed by a range of legislation, including the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986. Compliance of research involving these species is monitored by staff, a local practice Veterinary Surgeon, and by the Home Office through its inspectors. All staff at IFR carrying out procedures regulated under the Act must by law have prior training, relevant experience, and authority from the Home Office. The small number of projects affecting animals are subject to thorough, formal ethical review.

In any work involving animals of species protected under The Act the policy of the IFR is to adhere to the highest standards of humane care and treatment of those animals. The over-riding considerations are that:-

  • Research on animals is conducted only when it will contribute to the advancement of knowledge that is likely to lead to improvement of the health and welfare of people
  • The IFR conducts studies involving animals on the basis of well-defined scientific objectives, giving due consideration to the welfare of the animals, minimising the number of animals employed in each test, and avoiding unnecessary duplication
  • The IFR actively supports the development, validation and adoption of appropriate alternatives to the use of animals in order to eliminate the need for animals in research. In vitro studies are used as substitutes for whole-animal studies whenever such approaches are feasible
  • All animals obtained for research are subject to inspection and approval by the Veterinary Surgeon, and all laboratory animals that are protected by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986 are purpose bred at establishments licensed by the Home Office
  • Animals are transported, housed and cared for by dedicated and trained staff, under professional supervision, in a manner designed to ensure the best health and well-being of the animal, with provisions for environmental enrichment.
  • Members of the veterinary profession are available at all times for consultation, care and attendance.

The IFR is committed to the responsible use of animals in its research activities. All IFR personnel who supervise or undertake activities involving animals are trained to carry out their duties in a responsible and humane manner.

Where collaborative projects involving animals are proposed (with either UK or international institutions or universities) IFR scientists carefully review the arrangements in force for the care and handling of animals at the partner organisation and discuss these with the appropriate Animal Ethics Committee.

Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research

Expectations of the major research council and charitable funding bodies

Co-ordinated by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Wellcome Trust have produced a document to clarify their expectations with regard to responsibility in the use of vertebrate animals in bioscience research

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