We receive many comments in regard to the order in which our organization lists the 3Rs (Refine. Reduce. Replace.) It is actually purposeful.
After a long discussion, our Executive Council elected to place Refinement first in the list of the 3Rs to place greater emphasis on this often “neglected R”. Many organizations put Replacement on the list first, as ultimately it would be great to reach our scientific objectives by totally in vitro processes. Although replacement is a noble goal, and we should strive to develop these technologies further, it is more of a long term goal for many applications.
In the last 50 years, perhaps a handful of developments have totally replaced animals in research and teaching, more so in the latter. So, as we strive to Reduce and Replace, we also need to be focusing on Refinement, because this area has the greatest potential for more immediate impactful gains with relatively less financial and resource risks. Additionally, innovation, testing and implementation in the area of Refinement is dependent upon sharing ideas and collaborating, and that’s what we’re all about at the North American 3Rs Collaborative.