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    Animal Research - Concordat on Openness

    Harper Adams University Statement on Research involving Animals

    Harper Adams’ mission is to provide world leading higher education and research for the delivery of sustainable food chains and the protection of rural resources for future generations.  In order to achieve our mission, we strive to engage with the agricultural and food industries, professions and organisations that comprise the global agri-food chain, closely related industry sectors and the UK rural economy, to deliver sustainable solutions for current and future needs and challenges. As such, we aim to position ourselves as a trusted source of independent and authoritative commentary to inform public and policy debate on agri-food, animal wellbeing, land, environmental and rural business matters.

    Harper Adams University conducts applied research that addresses national and global issues and challenges that are specially aimed at agricultural and food applications with the aim to optimise environmental and economic sustainability. The University also delivers research and teaching on the vital role companion animals play in social wellbeing and the importance of their care and welfare. Therefore, the research carried out at Harper Adams University includes areas of agricultural animal productivity and welfare, veterinary medicine, and companion and leisure animals.

    All research project proposals at Harper Adams University are critically assessed by the University’s Research Ethics Committee (REC). The University is committed to the principles of the 3Rs of reduction, refinement and replacement. In relation to all research involving animals, we rigorously apply the 3R approach to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that no alternative to the use of animals is possible, that the number of animals used is minimised and that procedures, care routines and husbandry are refined to maximise welfare. This ethical review will cover animal trials and research below the threshold requiring regulation under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), such as behavioural observations or diet evaluation. The Welfare Codes of Recommendations will be applied to all animals at Harper Adams University. 

    After initial assessment by REC, any research that requires to be carried out under the ASPA will be forwarded to the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) for further evaluation. The AWERB comprises people from a variety of backgrounds, including vets, animal welfare officers, animal production scientists and lay people.  Harper Adams University have a limited number of Home Office Project Licences that have been granted permission under “the improvement of the welfare of animals or of the production conditions for animals reared for agricultural purposes”.  Therefore, companion or leisure animals will not undergo any regulated procedure. 

    The AWERB considers many different areas when assessing applications. These include the potential benefit gained from conducting study weighed against the cost to the animals involved. The AWERB will then provide constructive feedback to the applicant along with any recommendations they feel appropriate regarding the programme of work. Any comments/recommendations must be addressed by the applicant to the satisfaction of the AWERB before the application is approved.

    In 2023, 57 cattle underwent procedures under ASPA.  All studies investigated dietary means to improve the health, performance and reduce the environmental impact of farm animals, and were considered as mild procedures.

    The Harper Adams Commitments as signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK

    Signatories to the Concordat agree to be more open about their use of animals in research, and to abide by the following four commitments.

    • Commitment 1: We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
    • Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
    • Commitment 3: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
    • Commitment 4: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences

    Signatories agree that they will work to fulfil the four Commitments, initiating projects and strategies that are relevant and appropriate to their organisations to be more open about their use of animals in research, and will be asked to report on their progress in taking these steps.

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