Alternatives to animal experimentation
After two decades of decline, the use of animals in research is beginning to rise again. Geoff Watts examines replacement techniques and the potential for eliminating the need to use living creatures
When I visited the headquarters of the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) in the early 1970s, it wasn't clear if it was promoting an idea with a future. Then, as now, it viewed the scale of animal use as unacceptable. But instead of trying to sicken the public into rejecting it by showing pictures of mutilated cats and rabbits, FRAME was appealing to reason. While accepting that animal experiments couldn't be abandoned overnight, it argued that most knowledge could be acquired without using animals.
Thirty years on, FRAME raises some three quarters of a million pounds annually and maintains its own laboratory at the University of Nottingham. As well as accepting that use of animals should be refined and reduced, many research organisations have conceded that replacement is a desirable goal-even if enthusiasm for its implementation is sometimes more muted. And yet Home Office statistics