In September, the German government opened a nationwide centre at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment that is legally committed to protecting animals used for scientific purposes. The initiative is the first of its kind in Europe and is scientifically independent of executive and political advisory bodies. It aims to encourage greater transparency and raise standards of animal welfare by adopting an interdisciplinary approach.

Known as Bf3R (, it will encourage European research to meet the '3Rs' targets for animal experimentation (for replacement, reduction and refinement; see It will lead the way in enforcing the country's Animal Welfare Act and European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of lab animals.

Bf3R will also advise on legal and other requirements, helping authorities and researchers across Europe to communicate proper animal-protection practice to other scientists and to the public.