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August 25, 2011

Leading the Way on Alternatives to Using Animals in Experiments

The long-term goal of working with scientists to end harmful experimentation on tens of millions of animals in laboratories has always been an objective of The Humane Society of the United States.

At an international scientific conference in Montreal this week, we delivered a strong case that now is the time to spearhead a sustained effort to further develop alternative methods to replace animals in harmful research and testing altogether.

The venue for our presentation was the 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences—the premier forum for scientists, animal advocates, and others to discuss the current status of alternatives, as well as future prospects for advancing these methods.

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Alternatives can replace animals in research procedures, reduce the number of animals used, or refine methods so that they cause less animal suffering; these are known as the three Rs.

Dr. Martin Stephens, HSUS’ vice president for animal research issues, called on the alternatives community and the wider scientific community to lead science into the future by embracing the replacement of all animals in harmful experiments with more modern, sophisticated methods.

We’ve played other key roles in the conference throughout the week. On Sunday, The HSUS, Humane Society International, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund co-hosted the international Animal Protection Satellite Meeting, which brought together nearly 30 leading animal protection organizations endorsing our resolution calling upon research institutions around the world to develop and publicize strategies to replace, reduce, and refine their use of animals in experimentation.

Today, we presented the Russell & Burch Award to Julia Fentem, vice president of the Safety & Environmental Assurance Center of Unilever, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the advancement of alternative methods in testing the safety of products.

In addition, Emily McIvor, HSI’s senior policy advisor for the European Union, received the prestigious Henry Spira Award in recognition of her important accomplishments in the cause of animal welfare.

Our animal research experts co-organized sessions on testing Botox-type products and presented on the current state of chimpanzees in laboratories, efforts to reduce animal pain and distress, our AltTox.org website on non-animal alternatives, and other important topics.

In my book, I called for a new, humane economy, and replacing the use of animals in research and testing has to be one element of our economic and ethical make-over. This is a case where investments in innovation will not only move us away from the harmful treatment of animals, but also forward in our efforts to protect human health. Alternative methods are typically better, faster, less expensive, and more reliable than animal tests.

It’s a pivot point for us and our campaign to move away from animal testing and research. We will continue to work with scientists, policy makers, and other animal protection organizations to make that happen in the years ahead.

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