The number of animal experiments carried out in the Netherlands fell last year by fourteen percent, according to an annual report of the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA).
Last year a total of 620,875 animal experiments were registered, down from 724,025 in 2002. At Wageningen University the number of animal experiments declined by about ten percent from 10,914 in 2002 to 9,826 in 2003. This was to a large extent due to the outbreak of avian influenza last year. Animal experiment expert Dr Frank van den Broek hesitates to say whether the decline is indicative of a trend. ‘So far I would still call it ‘natural variation’ in the number of experiments. Annual figures are affected by whether as few as three PhD students have just started experiments on fish or are now writing up their research. It is the third year that the figures have gone down, and ten years ago the figure was 25,000 experiments, so it would be fair to say that there is a downward trend in the long term.’