The three Rs – Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal experimentation

Animal experimentation should only be allowed if no alternative methods are available for answering scientific questions. The number of laboratory animals and the distress that they suffer must be kept to a minimum.


The 3R Research Foundation Switzerland is replaced by the 3Rs Competence Centre of swissuniversities.

Since it was founded in 1987, the 3R Research Foundation has financed research projects for alternatives to animal experiments and for the improvement and reduction of animal experiments. The abstracts of these research projects can be found here:

After 30 years, the 3R Research Foundation Switzerland is discontinuing its engagement for the 3Rs. It will be replaced by the 3Rs Competence Centre of swissuniversities. The commemorative publication for the closing event of the 3R Research Foundation on 22 January 2018 can be found here: 


In Switzerland, researchers are obliged to reduce the number of animals used in experiments to a minimum. According to the guiding principles of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement), alternative methods must be found to replace animal experiments wherever possible. The absolutely necessary animal experiments have to be performed as gentle as possible (see Links: Russell and Burch, 1959, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique).

Better animal welfare and humane animal experimentation with the 3Rs

In Switzerland, there is a need to establish a “3R culture” aimed at continuously and sustainably reducing the number of animal experiments and the suffering of the animals involved.

The 3R Research Foundation supports research projects exploring the 3Rs. The foundation is a cooperative institution of the Parliamentary Group for Animal Experimentation Issues, the Animalfree Research foundation and Interpharama. It has existed since 1987 and is supervised by the Federal Department of Home Affairs. The FSVO is represented on the foundation board.

The 3Rs are proving effective: Since the 80s, the number of laboratory animals used has decreased from 2 million to 600,000. However, complete replacement of animal experimentation remains difficult: Alternative methods must not only enhance animal welfare, but must also operate on a scientific level.

In 2015, the Federal Council approved a report on animal experimentation in Switzerland. The report demonstrates how the investigation of alternative methods can be promoted, how the number of animal experiments can be decreased and how the suffering of the animals involved can be reduced. To this end, the Federal Council is proposing several measures (see “More information”).

More information

Last modification 29.01.2018

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