Animal Research Tomorrow expresses its concern about the recent popular initiatives that pose existential threats to Life Science (research) in Switzerland


Animal rights group activities aiming to massively restrict animal research in Switzerland have been increasing over the past few years. This worrying trend is of major concern for the Life Sciences as it endangers research and hampers medical progress, ultimately endangering the lives of both human and animal patients. Two initiatives that face the popular vote on February 13th, 2022, are seeking to ban animal research:

  1. A federal popular vote seeks to ban animal and human studies. If accepted, this would mean that animal research and clinical studies for developing new medication and the import of all drugs and therapies based on animal research and clinical studies will be banned. This would de facto halt medical progress in Switzerland as for the foreseeable future only medication whose efficacy and safety has been vigorously tested in animals and human clinical trials can be approved for market release.
  2. In Basel, a cantonal initiative seeks to confer fundamental rights to all primates. If accepted, this initiative would not only have immense ethical and philosophical consequences but also be detrimental to animal welfare of primates. Furthermore, as evolutionary less advanced primates like mouse lemurs are similar to mice with respect to physiological and anatomical parameter, the logic would open the door to initiatives demanding fundamental rights for primates and other animal species in both Switzerland and other European Countries.

Studies in animals pose an ethical challenge for research scientists, politicians, and society. Despite animal rights groups claiming the opposite, animals research remains indispensable for now and into the distant foreseeable future. Our primary objective as researchers is working towards One Health. Thanks to many decades of research, a great number of diseases can be treated today, not only in humans but also in livestock and pets entrusted to us, and such studies are also relevant to animal conservation efforts. Despite a long list of successful research that resulted in new therapies and medications and saved millions of lives, more intensive studies are needed to defeat a wealth of complex and incurable diseases. This research requires animal models to study diseases, whose complexity surpasses all research in available cellular systems. Banning basic and translational research in animals and clinical studies in humans would halt medical progress and deny millions of patients the hope for better treatments now and in the future.

Basel, 8th of February 2022

The Basel Declaration Society (BDS) condemns disregard of animal welfare regulation

During the last few days several media articles have dealt with the animal experimentation practice of the company LPT in Germany. For us at BDS, explaining the importance of the difficult topic of animal experimentation is very important. For years, we have been committed to respecting animal welfare, promoting the 3R principles of reduction, replacement, refinement and protecting the dignity of the animal.

Therefore, we declare:

  1. Disregard of animal welfare rules and requirements is unacceptable
  2. Carrying out animal experiments under uncontrolled conditions is unacceptable: the existing strict approval and control procedures in the EU are endorsed, promoted and supported by BDS
  3. BDS is committed only to research, where the dignity of the animal and the development of treatment options for patients are best balanced against each other

The German authorities have launched an investigation against LPT. We hope that it will bring clarity to the practices of the company and punish potential violations of animal welfare regulation.

5th International Conference of the Basel Declaration Society on “Openness and Transparency: Building Trust in Animal Research”

More than 100 scientists, animal welfare officers, representatives of advocacy groups and stakeholders from different countries met for a 2-day conference in San Francisco to discuss how to improve transparency and to increase the public understanding of the essential contributions that animal research makes to modern life science and biomedical research. The conference was organized by the international Basel Declaration Society (BDS) in close collaboration with Americans for Medical Progress (AMP), the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) and the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR).

Research with animals continues to be indispensable for understanding basic physiological mechanisms and develop and improve therapies for humans and animals alike. Nevertheless, there is sometimes little knowledge and understanding for these key issues by the general public. To identify the most efficient strategies to improve the understanding of animal research a variety of aspects were covered: the importance of developing strategies for openness in communication, establishment of transparency as well as possible challenges and risks connected to such efforts. In addition, some of the prime efforts and established modes of communication that aim to inform the general public about issues concerning research involving animals and the efforts to improve the well-being of laboratory animals were discussed. An impressive patient account exemplified how novel therapies developed using animal models improve human health and saves lives.

Four workshops were dedicated to the establishment of general principles on how institutions and scientists should move forward to openness and transparent communication of animal research. In particular strategies on how to increase the outreach to the young generation using online communication and social media/networks were discussed. Furthermore, the participants debated ways to improve the care and welfare of laboratory animals and to promote the implementation of the 3R principles (refine, reduce, replace) into daily research practice. The strategy and policy papers summarizing the milestones and deliverables of these workshops will be soon available for download from the Basel Declaration Society website ( For further information please contact:

Brazilian researcher wins this year’s Basel Declaration Award for Education in Animal Research

This year sees the Basel Declaration Society (BDS) bestow its Award for Education in Animal Research for the sixth time already. The 2017 winner of the award is Cilene Lino de Oliveira from the Department of Physiological Sciences in the Center of Biological Sciences at the University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil. This congenial Brazilian scientist teaches the “Laboratory animal care and welfare” course at her university and is hoping to gain even more international experience through her attendance of the course in Switzerland, so she can offer her students the best possible teaching.

With the bestowal of its award on Cilene Lino de Oliveira, the BDS is delighted to see this distinction go to a committed scientist and teacher with strong communication skills.
She will take part in a one-week certified course (EU Functions A, C, D and Modules 10, 20, 21) at the Institute for Laboratory Animal Science at the University of Zurich, all expenses paid by the BDS. Participants in this course learn how the principles of the 3Rs are implemented in the day-to-day practice of animal experiments for the benefit of laboratory animals.
The 3Rs stand for Replace, Reduce and Refine. The concept of Replace means that alternative methods, such as computer simulation or cell cultures, should be used instead of animal experiments wherever possible. The term Reduce refers to the efforts of researchers to keep the number of animals used in each experiment to the absolute minimum through optimum planning of their experiments. The principle of Refine requires laboratory animals to be treated with the greatest possible care and provided with the best possible housing conditions during their entire lives, both in the rearing of the animals and also throughout the experiment.

Cilene Lino de Oliveira will continue to advocate and champion the principles of the 3Rs and ethics in the handling of animal experiments at her university. She is also an ambassador of the Basel Declaration Society and is committed to compliance with the Basel Declaration. “Hopefully, the experience in this course will improve my skills to train people who will conduct animal experiments in my institute. Moreover, I expect to bring home the expertise needed to help consolidate education in animal research at my university.”

For more information please contact:

Astrid Kugler
Basel Declaration Society

Animals in experimental research in Europe are treated with care

A Europe-wide survey of institutes conducted by the Basel Declaration Society (BDS) has indicated that researchers using animals in their research treat them with due care. The survey polled a total of 755 researchers from 26 countries, and detailed analysis of the results indicates that there is a strong commitment among animal researchers across Europe to put into practice the principles of the 3Rs (Refine, Reduce, Replace)

What are the 3Rs?

Refine: The use of methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress and enhance animal welfare for the animals used.

Reduce: The use of methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.

Replace: The use of methods that avoid or replace the use of animals in research, such as in vitro studies (in cell structures) and experiments simulated by means of computer models.

About the survey

Many researchers report that the breeding platforms in their institutions are designed to reduce the number of animals used. Improvements in the practice of animal husbandry frequently went beyond what was required by law.

The institutions attach great value to the training and continuing education of their personnel. This was clearly apparent from the responses, which showed that students are learning about the 3Rs at an ever-earlier stage in their career development. Only about 2% of respondents had never encountered the principle of the 3Rs.

This improvement in the education of young animal researchers has had a major positive impact on the planning and execution of animal experiments, which is an important Refinement. The survey also showed that the application of biostatistical methods is an effective way to both Refine and Reduce the number of animals used. During the experiments, it is essential for the well being of the animal that it is monitored and that criteria for the termination of an experiment are formulated beforehand. Three-quarters of respondents followed these practices.

Efforts in basic research to replace animal experimentation with methods such as in vitro cell and tissue cultures or computer simulations were reported to be less promising. This is a reflection of how extremely difficult it is to understand the complex functions of a three-dimensional organism with its many different cell types and substances without animal research. Computer simulations can only be used if a biological process is already well-described. Moreover, as is also the case with data from cell or tissue cultures, results from computer simulations have to be validated in the whole animal. Nonetheless, both computer simulations and in vitro methods with cell and tissue cultures are increasingly used.

More than half of the respondents found that Refinement has the most potential for improvement in animal research.

For more information please contact:

Prof. Kevan Martin, Board member of the BDS

Prof. Gregor Rainer, Board member of the BDS

Primaten in der Forschung - Weiterzug

Der Regierungsratsentscheid betr. die Versuche an nichtmenschlichen Primaten wird ans Verwaltungsgericht weitergezogen. Damit wird einmal mehr biomedizinische Forschung in unverantwortlicher Weise behindert und ein international höchst erfolgreiches universitäres Institut des Kantons Zürich geschwächt. «Forschung für Leben» (FfL) befürchtet den Abzug sämtlicher Affenversuche ins Ausland.</p<

Es war nicht anders zu erwarten: die drei Mitglieder der Tierversuchskommission des Kantons Zürich haben ihren Rekurs gegen Versuche mit drei Rhesusaffen, welche zu den nichtmenschlichen Primaten gehören, an der Universität Zürich ans Verwaltungsgericht weiter gezogen. Die grosse Mehrheit der Tierversuchskommission, das Veterinäramt und jüngst auch der Regierungsrat haben nach sorgfältiger Güterabwägung und aufgrund von fehlenden Alternativen die Versuche gut geheissen. Für FfL ist der Gang ans Verwaltungsgericht zwar zu erwarten gewesen, aber deshalb trotzdem nicht minder verantwortungslos. Das Institut für Neuroinformatik, an dem die Versuche stattfinden sollen, und der betroffene junge Forscher werden für weitere wertvolle Monate in ihrer Arbeit behindert. Das verzögert und behindert die biomedizinischen Forschung, kostet enorm viel Geld, und löst das Dilemma, in der sich die Forschung mit Primaten befindet, nicht. Im Gegenteil: weil diese Versuche für das medizinische Verständnis von neurologischen Vorgängen im Gehirn notwendig sind, befürchtet FfL, dass wegen des massiven Drucks von Seiten der Tierversuchsgegner, ein guter Teil oder die gesamte Forschung mit und an Affen ins Ausland verlegt wird und der Forschungsstandort Schweiz massiv an Bedeutung verliert. Dies ist unnötig, da die Auflagen für Versuche mit nichtmenschliche Primaten nirgendwo so streng und die Tiere so gut kontrolliert werden wie in der Schweiz. Durch ihre Sturheit retten die Tierschützer keinen einzigen Affen, da diese Versuche, welche für die biomedizinische Forschung absolut notwendig sind, dann einfach von Forschern in anderen Ländern durchgeführt werden. Und dort sind die Tiere massiv weniger geschützt und kontrolliert.

Immer wieder ruft FfL den Menschen in Erinnerung, dass Versuche an nichtmenschlichen Primaten bis heute dazu beigetragen haben, das Leben von Hundertausenden von Menschen zu retten. So ist die Liste der medizinischen Erfolge, bei denen nicht zuletzt Versuche mit Affen eine wesentliche Rolle gespielt haben, sehr lang: Dazu gehören unter anderem Impfungen gegen Kinderlähmung, Masern und Diphterie, die antivirale Therapie bei HIV, Immunsuppressionen nach Organtransplantation um Abstossungen zu verhindern, Bluttransfusionen und vieles mehr. Die schlimmen Epidemien des vergangenen Jahrhunderts sind aus dem kollektiven Gedächtnis verschwunden. Auch zum Beispiel die Kinderlähmungsepidemie, die bis in die 1950er-Jahren bei Tausenden von Kindern schwere Schäden verursacht hatte. Dies sind alles aus der heutigen Medizin nicht mehr wegzudenkende Erfolge. Die Tierschützer sind jedoch der Meinung, dass in Zukunft die Schweiz von diesen medizinischen Fortschritten ausgeschlossen werden soll, da ihnen der Schutz der Tiere wichtiger als das Wohlergehen des Menschen ist - dagegen müssen wir Forscher, nicht zuletzt zum Wohle der Patienten, die auf Heilung hoffen, kämpfen.

Nirgends auf der Welt sind Tiere in Versuchen besser geschützt als in der Schweiz. Deshalb setzt sich FfL dafür ein, dass diese für den medizinischen Fortschritt unerlässlichen Versuche weiterhin in der Schweiz durchgeführt werden.

Für weitere Infos wenden Sie sich bitte an:

Prof. Rolf Zeller
Vizepräsident FfL und Präsident der Basel Declaration Society

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