What are the 3Rs?
The 3Rs aim to replace animal studies with non-animal methods and approaches (Replacement), reduce the use of animals (Reduction) or refine their welfare and conditions (Refinement). Replacement, reduction, and refinement must be considered as a whole in the planning of each study involving animals. Following the 3Rs is a firm legal requirement. They are constitutive principles of the Finnish national legislation and EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific or educational purposes.
The 3Rs and their impact on research
The Finnish Act on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific or Educational Purposes (497/2013) and the decree (564/2013) entered into force in 2013. Both are based on Directive 2010/63/EU. The above national regulations also include the provisions regarding the Council on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific or Educational Purposes (TOKES) (decree 565/2013) that is tasked with promoting the 3Rs.
TOKES has determined that animal welfare is based on the animal’s own experience of its mental and physical condition. Possibilities for adapting to environmental conditions and events, and possibilities to control environment, affect the welfare of an animal. The welfare is also affected by animal genome and any alterations thereof, as well as their health, environment, care and study procedures. The life of a laboratory animal should be as good as possible from birth to death. By law, animals used for scientific or educational purposes must be subjected to the minimum of any possible distress, pain, suffering and lasting harm.