The principles of the 3Rs were proposed by William M.S. Russel e Rex L. Burch in the book "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique", published in 1959.
The 3Rs are guiding principles for the ethical use of animal in scientific experimentation.
The 3Rs are the initials of:
- REDUCTION: as few animals as possibile should be used in each scientific test
- REFINEMENT: experiment should be designed to minimize the suffering of the animals used
- REPLACEMENT: alternative methods to animal testing of comparable validity should be considered when possible
These three words describe the ethical principles that researchers should respect in the design and conduct of animal experiments.
The 3Rs are not against experiments on animals. Their aim is to promote responsible experimentation.
The principles proposed by Russel and Burch are at the basis of the EU Directive 2010/63/UE on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The directive has been received in the Italian legislation through the D.LGS. n. 26, 4 March 2014.