A leading animal rights organization in Europe has given a cautious thumbs-up to a pledge made by industry groups last week to help the European Union expedite the search for new alternatives to animal testing.

At a meeting in Brussels hosted by the European Commissioners for Enterprise and Research, Günter Verheugen and Janez Potočnik – along with groups representing the chemical, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, soap and detergents, animal health, and crop protection industries -- signed a joint declaration on the "3 Rs"-- refining, reducing and replacing the use of lab animals.

"We think it is a very promising initiative," said Marlou Heinen from the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare, an umbrella group for some 19 animal welfare organizations. "But we see it very much as a first step—whether it will be an actual success will very much depend on how this is going to be implemented."

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