Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques, or avoid the use of animals altogether.
Non-animal techniques are often a spin-off from advances in science and technology. New approaches such as tissue engineering, stem cell technologies and computer modelling show promise for replacing animals in some areas of research. The pharmaceutical industry has eradicated whole areas of animal use by developing molecular biology, computer techniques and robotics to screen large numbers of potential medicines.
Even so, many alternative methods, such as cell cultures, often give only very limited information about what happens in a whole living animal.
Effort devoted to replacing safety tests has produced some notable successes, particularly for assessing substances applied to the skin. Other new tests are being developed, but progress is limited and difficult. This is partly because regulatory authorities take a cautious approach to safety testing new medicines and other products.
The National Centre for the 3Rs, set up by the UK government in 2004, funds 3Rs research and promotes exchange of ideas, information and best practice.
See also Alternatives and Replacements.