There are many barriers to the implementation of alternatives to animal testing. That needs to change, says Esther Ouwehand, MP for the Party for the Animals (PvD), in response to Menk Prinsen’s doctoral thesis at Wageningen.
MP Esther Ouwehand (PvdD) Photo:Carin Verbruggen
Prinsen, who received his PhD on 2 October, developed an alternative for a toxicity test on rabbits in the late 1980s. He used chickens’ eyes obtained from the abattoir instead. But it took decades before the international regulatory authorities took up his test — and then only partially.
It is a familiar story for Ouwehand: ‘It’s terrible trying to get alternatives to animal testing accepted in European and international regulations.’ She says it is ironic that alternatives that are often scientifically superior have to wait so long for acceptance.
The action plan to reduce the use of animal testing is scheduled for debate by Parliament at the end of November. Ouwehand wants to hear then that Dijksma (the state secretary) has made progress in eliminating obstacles, for example in legislation. ‘If this doesn’t get results,’ says Ouwehand, ‘I want the Netherlands to take the initiative to organize a summit.’ The idea is to examine internationally where the obstacles are and how they can be removed. In a reaction, Prinsen says he is pleased that his thesis has attracted attention. He is interested to see whether it leads to anything else.