The '3R' Principle

One of the most important potential consequences of our current research is that we are developing methods that in the future could reduce or replace the use of animal testing in biological research. Animal testing is necessary in science to understand the mechanics of biological processes, in order to evaluate the danger (or the risk of danger) from the potentially harmful effects of chemicals and medicines for humans and animals, and to test the safety and evaluate the effects of biological medicines and vaccines. In the Netherlands, all animal experiments are conducted according to the rules and regulations prescribed by the Animal Testing Act and the Animal Testing Decree. Currently, the nationally applicable legislation of all member states of the European Union is being revised and adapted to conform to the new EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.

Since 1986, there has been specific Dutch and European legislation on the use of animals for scientific purposes. On 22 September 2010, the EU adopted Directive 2010/63/EU, which replaced Directive 86/609/EEC from 1986, regarding the protection of animals used for the purposes of scientific testing. The new directive aims to strengthen legislation and improve the welfare of laboratory animals, which still needs to be improved. Additionally, the directive is intended to embed the ‘3R’ principle (Replace, Reduce and Refine) firmly in European legislation.