Immersed in our own uniquely American IACUC culture, it’s easy to become hyper-focused on the numerous (sometimes picky and occasionally onerous) rules and regulations that mandate and constrain our IACUC committees in the United States of America.
Kathryn Bayne’s recent 2015 Regional IACUC Conference talk on “IACUC Oversight Around the World” reminded us that we are not alone in the specialized world of animal ethics committees, and that across the globe, similar committees grapple with the same concerns, but work under somewhat different sets of mandates and constraints.
In many nations, the distinction between support for welfare and rights is not clear-cut. USA IACUCs are mandated to consider animal pain and distress; in Europe, suffering and lasting harm are added to the mandated considerations.
While we weigh the “3R’s” in our protocol evaluations, EU places them in a hierarchy: 1-Replace, 2-Reduce or 3-Refine. Internationally, there are other “R’s” required such as Rehabilitation (India), and in Europe, Re-use or Rehoming (taking into consideration the lifetime experience of each animal), and Retrospective Review (was the protocol as severe as predicted, was the research goal met, were the 3 R’s complied with?) are added.
As responsible IACUC members, how might a USA IACUC committee’s deliberations change with the requirement that the committee include a representative of an animal welfare/animal rights organization too? It is certainly food for thought.
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