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Animals used for scientific purposes

EU activities to advance alternatives


Alternative approaches are generally associated with the principle of the “Three Rs”. Alternative approaches are aimed at fully replacing an animal test, at reducing the number of animals needed in a test, or at refining an animal testing procedure in order to reduce pain, suffering and distress. Advancing the “Three Rs” through implementation of alternative approaches is not only benefiting the animals but equally aims at developing better and more predictive scientific tools to protect human and animal health and the environment.

The EU and the European Commission make significant and continued efforts towards these shared goals through a number of activities. 

  • EU funding for research
  • Hosting of the EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing, EURL ECVAM, which is responsible for the co-ordination of inter alia:
    • Provision of information systems: EURL ECVAM DataBase service on Alternative Methods, DB-ALM, QSAR Model database and TSAR tracking system on alternative methods
    • Pooling resources through an EU Network of Laboratories for the Validation of Alternative Methods, EU NETVAL
    • Involvement of regulators before validation via  Preliminary Assessment of Regulatory Relevance Networks, PARERE
    • Scientific peer review of validation studies by EURL ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee, ESAC
    • Active dialogue with the stakeholder community via the EURL ECVAM Stakeholder Forum, ESTAF
  • International harmonisation of regulatory testing requirements
  • A public-private partnership to advance alternatives in the area of regulatory use:  the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing, EPAA


Watch the introduction video to the work of EURL ECVAM