Animal experiments

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Scientific opinion on animal experiments, animal rights science and testing policies, scientific research and the ethics of experiments on animals.

Medical research is carried out to help improve health and to prevent and treat disease. Research using animals has been integral to a vast range of advances in understanding how the body works in health and disease, and to the search for ways to prevent and treat illness.

Scientific research using animals is tightly controlled in the UK. The use of animals in scientific procedures is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 which requires a three-level licensing system - personal licence, project licence and certificate of designation. All scientific procedures on animals are guided by a set of principles called the 3Rs: replace animal experiments with non-animal techniques wherever possible; reduce the number of animals to a minimum and use alternative methods where possible; refine the way experiments are carried out, to ensure highest welfare standards.

Below are links to statements and reports by a range of scientific bodies of national or international standing. Links to futher reading can be found on the right hand side of this page.

UK Academies and learned societies

The Society of Biology is the professional body for UK biologists with over 80,000 members including practicing scientists, students at all levels, professional in academia, industry and education, and non-professionals with an interest in biology.

The Physiological Society is a learned society with over 3,000 Members drawn from over 50 countries. 

The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society is an independent scientific academy founded in 1660, and claims to be the oldest such society still in existance. It plays an influential role in national and international science policy.

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) is a membership organisation of the leading medical and health research charities in the UK.

The Academy of Medical Sciences promotes advances in medical science and campaigns to ensure these are translated into healthcare benefits for society.

The British Pharmacological Society is the primary UK learned society concerned with research into drugs and the way they work. Their members work in academia, industry and the health services, and many are medically qualified. The Society covers the whole spectrum of pharmacology, including the laboratory, clinical and toxicological aspects.

Understanding Animal Research works towards achieving a broad understanding and acceptance of the humane use of anumials in biomedical research in the UK to advance science and medicine.

UK Government bodies

The Home Office Animals in Scientific Procedures (ASP) Inspectorate provides scientific advice to the Home Secretary and to officials who operate the system that approves licences for laboratories.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is a publicly-funded organisation dedicated to promoting high-quality research related to biological systems. It is funded by the Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS).

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a publicly-funded organisation dedicated to improving human health. It supports research across the entire spectrum of medical sciences. it is funded by the Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS).