Project leader: Prof. Dr. Margot Michel
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.
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” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Margot Michel 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: The first part deals with the differences and similarities in human research and animal experimentation law from a substantive legal and legal ethical perspective. Based on the understanding that animals share their vulnerability with humans, it will be analyzed to what extent animal experimentation law could and should approach human research law in certain aspects, such as transparency, upper stress limits and benefit sublimits. The second part examines the opportunity for advancing and implementing better 3Rs provisions in the field of regulatory animal testing, i.e. testing required by law. The role (and limits) of legislation in advancing and transitioning to an animal free regulatory system in chemical safety assessment (an important area in transition science) will be considered, using comparative legal analysis, and recommendations made for legislative reform.
In a synthesis of the two parts, the most important findings and possible solutions will be 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.
SNSF Data Portal
Nicole Lüthi, Prüfungsbefugnis der Bewilligungsbehörden im Bereich Tierversuche - ein Vergleich der rechtlichen Vorgaben der EU und der Schweiz unter Berücksichtigung der jüngsten Rechtsprechung, in:
Journal of Animal Law, Ethics and One Health (LEOH) 2023, S. 1 ff.