In contrast to previous events, this year animal protection groups were given a good hearing at the 9th World Congress on Alternatives to Animal Testing in Prague this week. Traditionally dominated by scientific discussions, this year the congress included more sessions on the use of animals in research and testing.
Dr Katy Taylor, our Head of Science was invited to suggest speakers for the ‘ethics’ theme and was also involved in chairing and presenting in various sessions. Over the course of the congress there were several sessions devoted to the ethics of animal testing where the question of ‘how to do animal research better’ was not being discussed but whether it should be done at all.
Delegates were, arguably for the first time, also repeatedly exposed to serious, scientific critiques of the use of animals. Scientists systematically reviewing animal experiments within universities highlighted the flaws in both the conduct and overall approach of animal testing. Our work showing the futility of tests on dogs and long term repeated dose test in rats was also presented.
There was heavy criticism of the care and treatment of animal used in laboratories, again not just by animal protection organisations. A representative from Imperial College London gave a presentation on their intention to improve practices as a consequence of the BUAV investigation in 2013. There was also criticism of the lack of transparency in animal experiments and the poor, biased reporting of animal experiments by researchers.
The last day of the conference saw Roman Kolar from our German ECEAE member DTB address the whole conference to ask the question ‘How long must they suffer?’ Roman was able to draw on several examples of the BUAV’s work in his presentation showing the importance and value of our work. We hope that those attending the congress who still test on animals will not only be inspired by the progress in replacing animal tests but will go back to their laboratories with new eyes.