17 January 2024
Ethical Research & Innovation (Animals)

I share the Government's commitment to the development of alternatives to using animals in scientific procedures and I am glad the Government continues to actively support and fund the development and dissemination of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) for the use of animals in scientific procedures.

This is achieved through UK Research and Innovation’s funding of the National Centre for the 3Rs, which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of non-animal technologies, and through research into the development of alternatives by Innovate UK, the Medical Research Council, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The recommendations in the Non-Animal Technologies Roadmap continue to be delivered including a £1.6 million commitment for the development of a virtual dog to help reduce the use of dogs in the safety testing of new medicines and £4.7 million funding for next-generation non-animal technologies that provide reliable, predictive and cost-effective alternatives to the use of animals. Scientists and representatives from regulatory bodies are involved in these efforts to accelerate the use of non-animal technologies.

The Home Office regulator, the Animals in Science Regulation Unit, will only grant licences to use animals in science where there are no alternatives, where the number of animals used is the minimum needed to achieve the scientific benefit, and where the potential harm to animals is limited to that needed to achieve the scientific benefit.

Furthermore, the Government has announced that no new licences will be granted for animal testing of chemicals that are exclusively intended to be used as ingredients in cosmetics products. I understand that the Government is also engaging with the relevant companies to urgently determine a way forward on legacy licences.

I will continue to monitor developments in this area closely.