We have all benefited immensely from scientific research involving animals. From antibiotics and insulin to blood transfusions and treatments for cancer or HIV, virtually every medical achievement in the past century has depended directly or indirectly on research on animals. The same is true for veterinary medicine. Modern biology, with all its contributions to the well-being of society, is heavily dependent on research on animals. Along with the great majority of the scientific community, the Royal Society considers that the benefits provide the justification for the research that led to them. At the same time, the Society also recognises that special ethical considerations are involved and that animal research must be undertaken only with the greatest care. The Society strongly endorses the principles of the 'three Rs' which means that every effort must be made: to replace the use of live animals by non-animal alternatives; to reduce the number of animals used in research to the minimum required for meaningful results; and to refine the procedures so that the degree of suffering is kept to a minimum.
This statement was first published in January 2002 and revised in September 2006.