Science - April 26, 2018

Lab animal numbers fall again

Text:
Roelof Kleis

Researchers at WUR are using fewer and fewer lab animals. The latest figures show a decrease of 9 percent. Chickens are the most common lab animal. A total of 30,512 lab animals were used in 2016, the most recent year to have been reported (see figure). Use declined by 20 percent at the university and by 6 percent at the research institutes.

©Guy Ackermans

A total of 30,512 lab animals were used in 2016, the most recent year to have been reported (see figure). Use declined by 20 percent at the university and by 6 percent at the research institutes.

There has been a downward trend for years in the use of lab animals but numbers have decreased even more sharply since 2015, one year after the new Animal Experiments Act came into effect. The act made the permit process more complicated and expensive. The government wants most research to not use any lab animals at all by 2025. This is reflected in the downward trend, says lab animal expert Rob Steenmans. According to him, the downward trend is continued in the figures for 2017 (which have not yet been published), although the decrease is less than in 2016. Steenmans: ‘Even so, it is busier than ever at Carus, our facility for animal testing. There are a lot of experiments with animals that aren’t formally animal testing because the animals don’t suffer.’ The lab animals used in WUR research are mainly
fish, chickens and mice, but the list also includes cats, frogs, horses, ferrets, wild boar and slowworms. The figures for the institutes exclude the monitoring of the fishing industry. Wageningen Marine Research caught 25,429 for this government task. As of 2014, those fish also count as lab animals by law


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