Finally, the Freudian slip. Or maybe the last-speech-before-lunch effect.
This lecture (all lectures now available here) was given by Gianni Dal Nigro, veterinarian and toxicologist from GlaxoSmithKline. He reported from the EPAA workshop Combining excellence in science and animal welfare, held in October this year, which gave a number of recommendations for the future activity of the EPAA.
|Images borrowed from the EPAA website|
Typing and listening at the same time, I understood the first of these recommendations (which reads “keeping Replacement as the ultimate goal”) as “skipping Replacement as the ultimate goal”. I found this really interesting, definitively daring but rather coherent with Richard Fosse’s lecture. So, when the time for post-lecture questions came, I took the chance to ask more or less the following:
Thank you for a very interesting presentation. I find it interesting that you have decided to skip Replacement as the ultimate goal, and I wanted to ask you if the workshop took this decision because it is not possible to reach replacement in the foreseeable time, or because it is not considered a relevant aim. I will explain why I’m asking the question. As has already been commented on by others, the animal use we are talking about in this conference is only about 10-15% of the total numbers of animals used in experimentation. And if we look at the overall use of animals, it is an even smaller fraction. Interestingly, we never discuss Replacement or even Reduction as regards animal production for human consumption, although the nuimbers are much larger and the amount of suffering is often considerable. Why is it, then, that it’s so important to replace the use of animals in testing? Are we really investing the efforts where they are best needed?
The answer was not very clear, which I now fully well understand, as what I asked must have made no sense whatsoever to the speaker, who had said something completely different. But the question remains. Why is it that using animals in research is such a questionable activity that we ought to make every effort to avoid it, when using animals for food production is reasonably accepted?
One can turn the question around: why don’t we discuss the 3Rs for animal production?