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'Reduce, Replace, and Refine'

Ministers in the UK say that they are working to limit the number of animals used in scientific research, Nature reports. The science minister, David Willet, says that the government plans to follow the "3R" approach of reducing, replacing, and refining the use of animals in research.

Willet notes that the while the number of animals used may decline, the number of procedures involving animals might not change.

According to Nature, the height of scientific procedures using animals in the UK was about 5.5 million in the 1970s, and it fell to about 2.5 million in 2000, though it increased to more than 4 million in 2012. However, Mark Walport, the government's chief scientific adviser, adds that that increase is mostly due the breeding of genetically modified animals, whose births — about 2 million a year — are considered procedures.

"This is about the scientific community doing its best whenever possible to reduce and replace the use of animals," Willet says. "This isn't about a numerical target."

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