The principles of the 3Rs were first proposed by William M.S. Russel and Rex L. Burch in 1959 in their book "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique".
These principles concern the ethical aspects in the use of animals in scientific experiments.
The 3Rs are the initials of:
REDUCTION: reduction in the number of animals used for a specific study
REFINEMENT: improvement of experimental design to reduce stress and suffering to animals
REPLACEMENT: replacement (even partial) of animal testing with alternative methods of comparable validity
These three words summarise the ethical principles that researchers should respect when they undertake animal experiments.
The principles of the 3Rs do not oppose animal experimentation. Their goal is to promote responsible experimentation.
The principles proposed by Russell and Burch are the basis of the European Union Directive 2010/63 / EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. This directive was implemented in Italy with Legislative Decree. of 4 March 2014, n. 26.