In practice, there has been concern that the Ethical Review Process adds a level of bureaucracy that is not in proportion to its contribution to improving animal welfare or furthering the 3Rs.
The Act requires that proposals for research involving the use of animals must be fully assessed in terms of any harm to the animals. An assessment of the method of administration, the effects of the substance on the animal, and the amount of handling and restraint required should all be considered.
However individuals perceive animals, the fact remains that animals are being exploited by research facilities and cosmetics companies all across the country and all around the world.
When asked which factors should be taken into account in the regulatory system, people chose those that—unknown to them—are already part of the UK legislation. The use of animals in research is never undertaken lightly.
Even in regulatory toxicology, which might seem to be a relatively straightforward task, about 20 different tests are required to assess the risk of any new substance.
This means that the UK now provides more public information about animal research than any other country. Computers have also been used to simulate and estimate the potential damage that a product or chemical can cause, and human tissues and cells have been used to examine the effects of harmful substances.
This culture of care is achieved not only through strict regulations but also by ensuring that animal technicians and other workers understand and adopt such regulations. Are animal models useful? The benefits of animal research have been enormous and it would have severe consequences for public health and medical research if it were abandoned.
There is no middle ground for these groups; they want the immediate and total abolition of all animal research.
Anti-vivisectionist groups do not accept this reality and are campaigning vigorously for the adoption of other methods without reference to validation or acceptance of their limitations, or the consequences for human health.