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The ambition of the paradigm shift we seek is vast, and the obstacles we face are intractable. For anyone opposing the use of non-human animals (hereinafter referred to as animals) in research and testing, the story has been the same from the start. Legitimate concern for animals has been all-too-easily dismissed as misguided sentimentality, and powerful vested interests have claimed scientific, economic, and moral superiority. But the ground is shifting. Animal researchers accept the need to provide scientific justification for their choices, and the protection of animals is increasingly recognized as a public good. Concern among citizens has been translated into hard-and-fast rules, and scientific advances have added weight to the growing demand for change.

In deciding how best to achieve the paradigm shift, the question for animal advocates is how to create the greatest change in the shortest time possible. This chapter deals with political campaigning at the European Union (EU) level, since the adoption of the first EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, and focuses on the main political developments of the past two decades. Historically, much was made of a perceived choice between presenting ethical or scientific arguments; both are powerful drivers, providing evidence that existing practice is flawed. Other chapters in this Volume describe aspects of those approaches in detail; similarly, the question of whether to focus on the 3Rs or replacement only is also covered elsewhere. In this chapter, a pragmatic policy focus is necessary to explore how scientific and ethical objectives can be pursued in order to move forward in the political arena, making full use of existing structures and creating new opportunities. The stakes are high. Our vision requires a revolution in science and in the way animals are treated. Twenty-first century technology should not depend on inhumane practices, just as modern economies should not depend on the destruction of the environment or the exploitation of workers.


open access book chapter