Collegium Helveticum
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Accelerating Replacement
Toward Animal-free Science Research at Swiss Universities

Policy Symposium

February 27, 2024

In 2021, the Swiss Federal Council directed the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to establish the National Research Program (NRP) 79 “Advancing 3R–Animals, Research and Society.” The program emphasizes the need to innovate, to reduce both the number of animals used in science and the harms they experience and to prioritize the replacement of animals in experiments altogether. The NRP recognizes that views about animal experimentation are changing, and that new technologies are emerging, such that renewed reflection on the continued paradigm of animal experimentation is required. 
The SNSF has also pressed the need for actual results in advancing the 3Rs, including new and improved tools and methods, strategies, identification of barriers, and demonstrated uptake of 3R tools and methods at all levels. They have called for research deliberations that, among other goals, consider the broader relevance of 3Rs in terms of a conceptual shift from animal experiments as a rule to animal experiments as an exception. The European Commission has recently indicated its willingness to modernize science in the EU and continues to strongly support the development of alternative approaches in order to accelerate phasing out animal testing.

This symposium aims to produce recommendations and a policy report to inspire and support (Swiss) universities to reframe experimentation in line with the SNSF call. Legal, ethics, policy, and scientific experts will discuss within a productive framework how replacement of animal models in scientific experimentation can be accelerated. The outcomes of the symposium are also intended to increase public understanding of the ethics of contemporary animal research and the existence of other models.

The symposium will be followed by a scholarly paper workshop for works-in-progress applying critical theory to the replacement principle in relation to policy and law reform.

Scholarly Workshop

February 28, 2024

Animal experimentation has long been a topic of bioethical, philosphical, and legal debate but perspetives engaging with critical theories have been much less prominent. What new or different perspectives and insights can critical theories offer vis-à-vis the ethics of animal experimentation, the 3Rs model, and particularly the call in certain circles to focus on replacening animal models altogether? To further this scholarship, a special issue on the theme of “Accelerating Replacement of Animal Experimentation: Critical Theoretical Perspectives” is planned for publication consideration by the Journal of Animal Law, Ethics and One Health.

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