NRP 79 - Animals, Research and Society

NRP 79

The National Research Program “Advancing 3 R – Animals, Research and Society” (NRP 79) launched by the Federal Council has outlined two overarching goals, which can be described as follows: On the one hand, from a bioscience technology perspective, methods and instruments will be devised and developed that will contribute significantly to the reduction of animal experiments and the number of animals used in research conducted by universities and the private-sector in Switzerland. On the other hand, the ethical, legal, social, historical and economic aspects of animal testing and the use of animals in science will be examined innovatively from a humanities and social science perspective. In doing so, the results and findings of NRP 79 will create a shared basis for discussion to promote societal discourse.

NRP 79


Forschungsprojekt: Implementation of the 3Rs in Swiss Law

The widely recognized 3R principle is an expression of the recognition that animals, as sentient beings, should not be subjected to unnecessary suffering and that animal experiments should therefore be an exception requiring justification. Swiss law protects animals on the principle of ethical animal protection and recognizes their intrinsic value beyond their usefulness to humans. This is reflected in the anchoring of the dignity of creation in the Swiss Constitution (Art. 120 BV), the dignity of animals in the Animal Protection Act (Art. 1 TSchG) and the legal stipulation that animals are not “things” (Art. 641a ZGB). Nevertheless, the law still treats animals in a very contradictory way.  For example, animals do not enjoy protection of their lives and their bodies, and their functions can be instrumentalized for other purposes. This contradiction becomes especially explicit in animal experimentation.

The project “Implementation of the 3Rs in Swiss Law” is dedicated to the 3R principle from a jurisprudential perspective. Over the course of four years (2022-2026), it will be researched how the law regulates animal experimentation as well as what could and should change in the future.

The project pursues a two-track approach: In the first part, it is examined how the 3Rs principle is anchored in Swiss law and which contradictions exist in the current law. Furthermore, the discrepancies with current legal and ethical discussions on the human-animal relationship will be examined and their possibilities explored. The second part examines which instruments and modifications in the approval procedure can ensure a better implementation of the 3Rs principle in practice as well as stronger consideration of the public interest in animal welfare. Comparative legal considerations are also included. In a synthesis of the two parts, the most important findings and possible solutions are summarized and presented to the relevant stakeholders for further development of the treatment of animals and their bodies at the legislative level.

The project aims to fortify conversation between science and practice. For this purpose, a close exchange with various relevant actors, such as members of federal and cantonal experimentation committees, researchers, institutions, and officials, is planned to be maintained throughout the project.

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