According to scientists and innovators, an important reason for the sluggish transformation of research practices towards animal-free science is that very large sums of money are still flowing towards animal-based research methods. In fact more than 23 million animals were impacted by science in the EU in 2017.
Many scientists have been putting forward strategies that describe how combinations of methods not involving the use of animals can provide the necessary data for the development and testing of new therapies by providing a complete model of disease in humans. However, the same scientists have a recurrent complaint: they have limited support to continue their research.
Despite the efforts of some organisations to promote animal-free research, they are dwarfed by those of the major funders. It’s a vicious circle: our long-term reliance on animal-based research has led to practices that are strongly rooted in regulation and in our social and scientific norms making change difficult.
Governments remain the major funding bodies of non-animal research in all Member States that use the highest number of animals in science, mainly through the funding of non-animal based research projects or through the funding of 3R centres. A 2019 Eurogroup for Animals study shows that many animal-free approaches have been developed and are commonly used by most public research institutions.
However, the use of non-animal models is still very limited compared with the animals used in these research institutions. Several private organisations also fund non-animal research, but since these organisations rely exclusively on private donations, the funds made available for the development of alternative approaches remain relatively poor. Finally, in all these countries, only a handful of private laboratories completely rely on non-animal models to conduct their research.