People – «Radical, Responsive, Reliable»

Presenting our members of the steering committee: Prof. Markus Wild, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Basel

Please describe yourself using 3 words that start with an R?

«Radical, Responsive, Reliable»

In your opinion, what challenges are facing the use of alternative methods of animal testing in Switzerland?

The lack of institutionalisation is a problem at universities. Everything is available for animal experiments: animals in large quantities, laboratories, standards, staff, professorships, etc. By contrast, there is a lack of space for alternatives in the sense of the 3Rs. Not only are there not enough incentives for alternatives to animal experiments, but violations of the Animal Welfare Act by members of scientific laboratories – such as at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel in 2023 – are not penalised strictly enough. From a scientific, ethical, legal and political point of view, I feel that this is no longer in keeping with the times. Universities need to provide better infrastructure for 3Rs, for example 3R professorships with appropriate equipment. This would also improve the reputation of alternative methods and motivate young researchers to build a successful career with their help, which seems to be rather difficult at the moment.

In your opinion, what concrete steps would be necessary in Switzerland to draw up an exit plan from animal testing?

Apart from infrastructure, universities need better training and implementation of the 3R methods now, not in the indefinite future. Otherwise, Swiss universities risk losing out. In addition, the SNSF should provide special support for research using alternative methods, for example in a special programme with a budget reserved for this purpose. In my experience, scientists are very quick to recognise third-party funding options and adapt to them. Finally (and this is the most important point), we must reach a social consensus that the 3Rs must be the beginning of a phasing-out of animal experiments. We cannot simply open up a second avenue while continuing with animal testing to the same extent as in the past. Otherwise the 3R will suffer the same fate as the e-bike: it will not replace conventional private transport but will simply be an addition to it.

Main fields of expertise:

  • Animal philosophy (including animal ethics)
  • Philosophy of mind
  • History of early modern philosophy