A central database on animal testing is a good idea. The only question is how much will it achieve, says professor of Animals and Society Elsbeth Stassen.
Stassen is responding to the Dutch parliament's wish to register all animal tests from now on. Stassen is chair of one of the animal ethics committees in the Netherlands which assess the acceptability of animal tests. The database is an initiative by the Dutch animal rights party. The advantage of such a database, says Stassen, is that scientists would be obliged to register all animal tests. 'Including therefore tests that don't lead to a publication because the hypothesis was not confirmed or the test was a failure in some other way. That would be a plus. It would prevent the same test from being repeated by others.'
But Stassen questions the feasibility of running the proposed database. 'How do you obtain a complete picture? There is a tension between openness and intellectual property rights in externally funded research. This applies to Wageningen especially.' According to Stassen, there is much to be gained by adjusting the rules and regulations (including international ones) on registering new foods and medicines. 'At present these regulations lead to much unnecessary animal testing. We also need more funds that facilitate a systematic search for alternatives to animal testing.'