Don’t Be Fooled by the 3Rs!

The 3Rs is a Government policy originally established in 1959 for ‘humane experimental technique on animals’.  It is an alleged ethical policy for the protection of animals –  it is not a science policy and entirely ignores current scientific knowledge. The 3Rs is now enshrined in the Animals in Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA) which sanctions experiments on animals as falsely claimed predictive models of human patients.

The 3Rs calls for animal numbers to be ‘reduced’, for harmful experimental procedures on animals to be ‘refined’ and for experiments on animals to be ‘replaced with alternatives’, if there is an alternative available. This last ‘R’ – ‘replacement with alternatives’ – is the most effective at misleading the public and decision makers. Animal models are now proven to have never held predictive value for humans, so it is clearly nonsense to call for an alternative to something that has never existed. Animal models are not interchangeable alternatives with human-based research. Human-based research is viable – it works – whereas animals models are now proven to fail humans and that is what the EDM 66 science debate is calling to judge.

The 3Rs uses language from an alleged animal protection/ethical policy  – and mistakenly tries to apply that language to current science.

The 3Rs is a distracting exercise which also asks for a worthless scientific endeavour to be reduced and refined.

Organisations which promote the 3Rs include the National Centre for 3Rs, ‘Understanding Animal Research‘ and the Humanimal Trust.

Why we entirely oppose the use of the word ‘alternative’, in this context

An alternative to eating a salad sandwich is eating pasta or chocolate. Eating rocks is not an alternative becuase rocks are not food. Likewise, using the word ‘alternative’, within the context of ‘replacing’ animal experiments, is nonsense because it falsely states that animal models have worked in the first place and we just need an alternative route to animal model land (which works better than animal experiments and is also less cruel to animals). This is deeply misleading.

Current science now proves that animals have never held predictive value for the responses of humans and will not be able to help the search for treatments and cures. The British Medical Journal  made this the focus of their Editor’s Choice in June 2014, and pharmaceutical companies write about the failure of animal models in their drug development process, openly and often in the scientific literature.  Today, current science provides an advanced understanding of genetics and evolutionary biology to explain exactly how and why animal testing fails.

For more information please watch the recent science lecture delivered by our senior doctor Ray Greek MD, at the University of British Columbia:

Abandoning failure is never dependent upon what else is available

The correct name for human-biology based research is viable because these methods have a proven track record of success. And although there are many exciting new human-based research methods which are viable, at the time of writing it is also true to say that very few human-based (in vitro or in silico) methods exist that can predict safety or efficacy for the testing of new human medicines – (this is what Beagles are used for). However; because animal models offer no predictive value for humans, requiring the existence of safety tests that do have predictive value before abandoning animal tests – that offer none – is like continuing to treat schizophrenia with trephination (cutting a hole in the skull), and justifying the practice based on the fact that there is currently no cure for schizophrenia. One of the first rules in medicine is to not make the situation worse and animal models – together with the 3Rs – violate that principle.

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