The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA) published Zo doende 2014, its annual report of animal research in the Netherlands, yesterday. The number of animals used is 17.9% higher than in 2013. Despite the annual report containing revised numbers for 2013, direct comparison is difficult due to new reporting requirements following on from the European Directive 2010/63/EU.
National animal research reports now count every animal at the end of the experiment, as well as the maximum severity of procedures it has experienced in its lifetime. This provision will promote a more accurate and transparent way of assessing the cost of research in terms of what the animals actually experience. This and other new reporting requirements, enforced starting with the 2014 numbers, will ensure that animal research statistics can be fairly compared across Europe.
563.769 animals were used for scientific purposes in the Netherlands in 2014. The Dutch government has a more stringent definition of animal procedures than the European one and includes animals that are euthanized for their organs or bodily fluids without being used for any experiment. According to the Dutch standards, then, a total of 621.027 animal procedures were carried out in 2014.
Mice and rats were by far the most used species, together making up two thirds (67%) of all animals used. Non-human primates made up 0.4% of all research animals used in the Netherlands in 2014. 25.8% of procedures were carried out using genetically modified animals, of which the definition has been expanded to include animals used in the breeding process of genetically altered animals. The large majority of genetically modified animals were mice (97.8%).
The categories for reporting discomfort and pain in the Netherlands have changed to match the European requirements. The large majority of procedures fell into the ‘mild’ category (78.1%), with the other procedures being ‘moderate’ (17%), ‘severe’ (2.7%) and ‘non-recovery’ (2.1%). In nearly 70% of procedures, no anaesthesia was used and no pain relief was administered in 81.25% of procedures. Anti-animal research activists often use this statistic to support their accusations of animal research as cruel, so it is important to note that the reason for procedures being carried out without anaesthesia or pain relief is because there is no cause for it in many mild procedures.
The 2014 statistics were uploaded on the NVWA website without any media engagement, leaving the numbers open for incorrect interpretation by anti-animal research activists and others. Read here our blog making the case for pro-active communications of animal statistics.