Alternatives and the Animal Welfare Act

"...the farm bill contains legislation dealing with the humane treatment of animals. The main thrust of the bill is to minimize pain and distress suffered by animals used for experiments and tests. In so doing, biomedical research will gain in accuracy and humanity. We owe much to laboratory animals and that debt can best be repaid by good treatment and keeping painful experiments to a minimum."

- Senator R. Dole, Congressional Record - House, December 17, 1985

Information Requirements of the AnimalWelfare Act

Auth. 9 CFR 2.31 (d)

"[The] IACUC shall determine that...

(ii) The principal investigator has considered alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals, and has provided a written narrative description of the methods and sources, e.g., the Animal Welfare Information Center, used to determine that alternatives were not available;

(iii) The principal investigator has provided written assurance that the activities do not unnecessarily duplicate previous experiments;"

USDA Regulatory Intent

Final Rules and Regulations
Federal Register Vol. 54, No. 168
Thursday, August 31, 1989

"The principal investigator must provide written narrative of the sources, such as biological abstract, Index Medicus, the Current Research Information Service (CRIS), and the Animal Welfare Information Center that is operated by the National Agricultural Library. We believe that in fulfilling this requirement Committee members will discuss these efforts with the principal investigator in reviewing the proposed activity. We also believe that considerations of alternatives will be discussed during Committee meetings where proposed activities are presented for approval, and made part of the meeting minutes..."

3 R's of Alternatives

Reduction - number of animals used
Refinement - techniques and procedures to reduce pain and distress
Replacement - of animal with non-animal techniques or lower organisms

Russell, W.M.S. and R.L. Burch (1959, 1992) . The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare: England, 238p.

Databases for Searching for Alternatives

Available on Dialog:

  • AGRICOLA - file 10
  • MEDLINE - file 154
  • EMBASE - file 72
  • BIOSIS - file 55
  • LIFESCIENCES - file 76
  • ZOOLOGICAL RECORD - file 185
  • ASFA - file 44
  • PSYCHINFO - file 11
  • SCISEARCH - file 34
  • TOXLINE - file 156
  • CAB - file 50
  • AGRIS - file 203
  • INT'L PHARMACEUTICAL ABSTRACT - file 74
  • NTIS - file 6
  • INSPEC - file 2
  • COMPENDEX PLUS - file 8
  • MICROCOMPUTER INDEX - file 233
  • A-V ONLINE - file 46
  • PASCAL - file 144
  • CANCERLIT - file 159
  • RTECS - file 336

Selected Alternatives Keywords

  • animal model(s)
  • animal testing alternative(s)
  • alternative(s)
  • artificial
  • vitro(method, model,technique)
  • culture (cell, tissue, organ)
  • isolated (cell, tissue, organ)
  • model?
  • plastinat?
  • single-celled organism?
  • bacteria, protozoa
  • invertebrate?
  • fish?, cephalopod?
  • amphibian?, reptile?
  • simulat? (simulation(s))
  • simulator(s)
  • computer(s)
  • software
  • interactive
  • digital image?
  • virtural (surgery, reality)
  • video? (disc, display)
  • mannequin? (manikin)
  • mathematical model(s)
  • cadaver?
  • anesthe?, anasthe?, anaesthe?
  • analges?, sedative, anxiolytic
  • euthanas?
  • handl? (handling)
  • housing, facilit?, caging
  • train?, educat?, teach?
  • welfare, pain, stress, distress
  • assay?, technique?, method?
  • environ? enrich?
  • behav? enrich?

Note: Refinement alternatives are found using terms relevant to the area of study.

AWIC Tips for Searching for Alternatives

  • General area of study
  • Species being used
  • Describe protocol
  • Organ systems involved
  • Acronyms
  • Names of hormones, enzymes, CAS#, trade names, etc.
  • Prominent authors in field including work published by investigator
  • How is the proposed study unique
  • Is the investigator aware of any possible alternatives
  • Any previous searches conducted -- keywords used.

Animal Welfare Information Center
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705
Phone: (301) 504-6212
Fax: (301) 504-7125
e-mail: awic@nal.usda.gov
http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic External Icon