Alternatives and animal use in the life sciences

July 22, 1999

More than 700 scientists and others committed to humane experimental technique will meet at the "3rd World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences", in Bologna, Italy, from 29 August to 2 September 1999, to discuss issues such as the ethics and safety considerations involved in the development of alternative test methodologies, the progress achieved to date in the implementation of the Three Rs concept, and also to consider what still needs to be achieved to ensure progress in the future.

The use of animals in scientific experiments is always an issue of contention, subject to varying opinions and often evoking strong emotions in many people. The principle that the use of animals in laboratory procedures should be reduced, refined and/or replaced whenever possible (now known as the concept of the Three Rs), was first introduced by W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch in 1959, in their publication "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique".

How appropriate, then, that the 3rd World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences will be held from 29 August to 2 September 1999 in Bologna Italy, in the year that marks the 40th anniversary of this pioneering publication.

The Congress will be hosted by ECVAM (the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods), from the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, part of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. More than 700 scientists and others committed to humane experimental technique will meet with Professor Russell at this Congress. Together, they will consider not only what has already been achieved in implementing the Three Rs in biomedical research, education and testing, but also what needs to be done to ensure that further progress continues to be made as we enter the 21st century.

The five main themes of the Congress are:
The development of replacement alternatives, the validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative tests, reduction alternatives, the refinement of animal procedures, and education, ethics and databases.

Scientific sessions will include discussions on whether conflicts between human rights and animal rights are inevitable, whether the use of non-human primates in laboratories could (and should) be phased out, what needs to be done so that vaccines can be produced without using animals, and how human tissues can be safely and ethically obtained for use in research and testing.

In addition to eight plenary lectures and special lectures, there will be 35 symposia in parallel sessions based on the five main themes. There will also be 30 workshops and point/counterpoint sessions, more than 200 poster presentations, and an exhibition comprising commercial presentations and displays by animal welfare and alternatives research organisations and other non-profit enterprises.

A press conference will be held on 31st of August, at 11.30 AM, at Bologna Congressi, in "Sala Gialla". A summary of the main points of the Congress will take place, as well as an opportunity for a questions and answers session with the main panel.

Members of the press are cordially invited to attend.

The full Conference programme can be found at: and on:, under broadcast/events.

Further information is also available at:
For further details please contact:

Ulla Engelmann
Joint Research Centre Ispra - Public Relations
21020 Ispra (VA), Italy
Tel.: 39-0332-78-9889, Fax: 39-033278-2435

European Commission Joint Research Centre

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