Legislation controlling the operations of the Central Animal Laboratory

Legislation ensures that the animals are kept and used for scientific or educational purposes only. All the activities where animals are involved are regulated and controlled by national and international regulations, agreements and guidance documents.

The law applies to all animals used for the purposes of basic research, higher education and training: vertebrates and their independently feeding larvae, foetuses of mammalian species in their last trimester of development as well as cephalopods.

The main principle is that an animal experiment is not allowed to be conducted without a license from the Animal Experiment Board (project license) and the person who performs the animal experiments must be competent.

Live animals cannot be used in studies where the same results can be obtained by other methods.
It must be ensured that only the minimum number of animals is used for scientific or educational purposes and that minimal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm is caused to the animals.

Legislation regarding the animals

The animals used in the research projects must be bred for the purpose. It is not allowed to use stray and feral animals of domestic species and animals captured from the wild in research projects.

Legislation regarding the use of animals in experiments

Animal experiments may be performed only if there is no other scientifically reliable practical method which does not require the use of an animal to achieve the desired result.

If it is possible to achieve the desired result with some other means, the animal experiments must be replaced even in part with some other scientifically reliable method that does not require the use of an animal, or with a method which allows reducing the total number of animals or the pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm caused to the animals concerned.
Animal experiments may be carried out only with authorisation granted by the Animal Experiment Board.

If your study does not include procedures, you do not need an authorisation from the ELLA board, but you must inform your animal unit about the use of animals.
Authorisation is mandatory when

  • the experiment causes the animal a level of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm equivalent to or higher than caused by the introduction of a needle in accordance with good veterinary practice.
  • procedures performed on unconscious anesthetised animal 
  • any intended action that is liable to result in the birth or hatching of an animal
  • the creation and maintenance of a genetically modified animal line.

Project authorisation is not required when:

  • the animal is euthanised in an acceptable way in order to sample its tissue
  • taking samples for health monitoring or disease diagnostics
  • determining the genetic quality of the animal
  • the animal is marked in an acceptable way
  • performing veterinarian procedure.
Legislation regarding the personnel

The persons who are planning the projects, performing procedures on animals, taking care of the animals and euthanising animals must have the necessary knowledge and skills and are supervised in their work until they have adequate knowledge and skills to work on their own.

​The staff maintains their professional competence by education, training and assessments.

The personnel of the CAL ensure that:

  • research projects  are implemented in accordance with the legislation and project authorisation
  • persons responsible for the projects have adequate education, training and qualifications
  • researchers are advised in matters related to the welfare of animals
  • there is an  appropriate veterinary care for controlling the state of health, medication, treatment and advance prevention of illness, and ensuring the welfare of animals.

A project may be planned by a person who holds a higher education degree and has successfully completed training in the use of animals for scientific or educational purposes in accordance with the teaching programme of a higher education institution or approved by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland.  

Legislation regarding the facilities carrying out animal experiments

Authorities can grant an operation authorisation to facilities that are designed in a way that takes into account the specific needs and characteristics of each animal species in the care of animals. It must have adequate and appropriate installations and equipment for the practiced activities. In addition, there has to be appropriately organised veterinary care for the medication, health care and treatment of illness.

​The unit (or breeder, supplier and/or user) must:

  • Have the necessary number of competent staff familiar with the practiced activities and their requirements.
  • Designate an animal welfare body including the person responsible for the facility, a designated veterinarian and at least one representative of science.
  • Keep records on the species and the number of animals that are bred, acquired, supplied or used in the procedures; names and addresses of the suppliers and recipients of animals and dates on which the animals have been acquired or supplied; the origin of the animals; medicines administered to the animals; and the species and numbers of animals which have died or been euthanized as well as the cause of death when known.
  • Keep records on projects – the animals which were used in them and the actual severity of the procedures performed on them.
  • Keep records concerning veterinary care.

If there are animals or micro-organisms whose genome has been modified artificially, operation authorisation must be obtained from the Gene Technology Board.

Supervision by Authorities

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has the overall responsibility for supervising and steering the enforcement of national and EU legislation on animal welfare issues. The Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) controls the practical implementation of animal welfare legislation. The Regional State Administrative Agencies oversee the compliance with legislation in their respective regions. On the local level, the authorities responsible for controlling animal welfare include municipal veterinarians, municipal health protection control officers, and the police.

Facilities carrying out animal experiments are monitored by the Regional State Administrative Agencies.

Authorisations for animal experiments are granted by the Animal Experiment Board appointed by the Government, which carefully assesses each individual application. Animal experiments may only be performed for essential or important reasons, and the expected benefits must justify any harm that may be inflicted on the animals involved.

Animal experiment establishments and the performance of experiments are supervised by the Regional State Administrative Agencies. Animal experimentestablishments must have suitable premises and equipment as well as staff with the necessary professional skills. Detailed records must be kept by animal experiment establishments and their staff on their animals and how they are used, and this information must be duly submitted to the relevant Regional State Administrative Agency.