Today I’m blogging live from Brussels, from the annual conference of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing. This is a collaboration between the European Commission and industry to promote alternatives.
Before going on to reporting from the different talks, let me clarify two key issues:
Animal testing is a very specific part of the larger concept of animal use for scientific and other experimental purposes. It means the use of animals to test substances (pharmaceutical drugs, industry chemicals etc) in order to evaluate whether it is safe to use these substances for the purpose they are intended. Research which is intended to develop those substances or understand how they can be used to treat diseases in the case of drugs, or to kill insects in the case of pesticides, is not animal testing.
Alternative approaches is a tricky expression. Alternatives are not only those which replace animals, but also those that reduce the number of animals and those that refine the way animals are used so that suffering is minimized. That is, all the 3Rs as defined by Russell and Burch in 1959 are considered alternatives.