The UK is committed to maintaining a rigorous regulatory system which ensures that animal research and testing is carried out only where no practicable alternatives exist and under controls which keep suffering to a minimum. The Government ensures all research proposals are compliant with the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the 3Rs). The UK has been at the forefront of opposing animal tests where alternative approaches could be used, known as the "last-resort principle". The last-resort principle will be enshrined as a protected provision in our landmark Environment Bill.
Defra, together with the Environment Agency and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, are actively engaged in research and development work centred around the 3Rs principles. This work sits within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) chemical testing guidelines programme. Our regulators and scientists, alongside colleagues at Public Health England and The National Centre for the 3Rs, are working collaboratively with partner countries to develop new test methods and approaches with the potential to reduce or replace animal tests for chemical assessment, whilst maintaining a high degree of safety.