Nieuws - 16 mei 2013

Van Ravenzwaay: 'PAN criticisms not justified'

Contentious professor is investigating replacement for animal experiments.

Bennard van Ravenzwaay, is not bothered by the criticism in some quarters of his appointment as professor holding an endowed chair in Reproduction and Development Toxicology. 'It's just a pity that PAN didn't take a closer look at the content of my assignment.' PAN is the campaign group Pesticide Action Network. Its European branch used the inauguration of Van Ravenzwaay as an opportunity to condemn Wageningen UR's close relations with industry. PAN's press release received considerable attention in the media.
Van Ravenzwaay's chair is funded by his employer BASF, where Van Ravenzwaay is vice-president of Experimental Toxicology and Ecology. PAN says BASF is buying influence on the university's research. Van Ravenzwaay rejects the accusations. 'It is good to give information on someone's background when they are appointed to an important position. I had to supply a lot of documentation before my appointment could be confirmed. The procedure was followed meticulously.'
Van Ravenzwaay doesn't understand the criticism. 'The aim of my research is to avoid the need for animal testing. How can you call that biased? In my speech, I tried explain the pros and cons of in vitro studies as a replacement for animal testing. The big advantage of in vitro is that you need fewer animal experiments. It also lets you discover key adverse effects of a new substance at an early stage. That saves on money and animal experiments. So it's a win-win situation.'
Van Ravenzwaay actually started at Wageningen over a year ago. His research focuses on establishing the toxicity of substances for prenatal life using methods that do not involve animal testing.