Organisation - November 4, 2010

Number of animals used in tests stays same

The number of animals being used in experiments in Wageningen University was almost the same last year as the year before, according to a government report.

Last year, Wageningen University used 16,788 animals in a range of experiments, says the report by the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority of the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport.
Not much change in the numbers since the previous year, but there has been a change in the kinds of animals used. The most striking of these is the rise in the number of chickens being used in tests: from 3884 in 2008 to 8649 in 2009. This increase is due to research projects on animal welfare, such as studies on feather-pecking, dust-bathing, the influence of daylight lamps, breeding hens that do not feather-peck, and establishing the daily requirements of energy and protein. By contrast, the number of fish used in 2009 was relatively small: about 5,000 as opposed to 10,000 in 2008. In total, 884 animals were used for educational purposes.
Since 2000, the number of test animals used per year in Wageningen has fluctuated between 9,000 and 19,000. These figures only include the university, however. The number of animals used by DLO institutes is not publicized.
More test animals due to stricter rules
Nationwide, 592,000 tests were carried out on animals last year. That is 14,000 more than in 2008, when the number actually went down. The main reason was an increase in toxicological testing on rats, which the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority puts down to stricter European rules on chemical substances. Lab rats are the victims of these rules. Nationwide, half of the tests were done for academic research, and one third for the purpose of developing medicines and vaccines.