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EU: Number of animals used for scientific purposes in the EU drops

The European Commission has released the seventh of its reports on the number of animals used in the EU for experimental and other scientific purposes. The number of animals submitted by the 27 Member States relates to the year 2011 (with data from France for 2010) and totals just under 11.5 million, i.e., more than half a million less than reported for 2008. The most commonly used species were mice (61%), rats (14%), and cold-blooded animals (12.5%). As in all reports since 1999, no “Great Apes” were used in experiments in the EU in 2011.

 

The use of fish and rabbits increased by about 310,000 and 25,000, respectively, in comparison to 2008, while the use of rats decreased by more than 500,000 and the use of mice decreased by almost 123,000. The number of “other birds” and guinea-pigs dropped by 85,000 and 49,000, respectively. There is a clear de­crease in the use of prosimians and non-human primates. The most notable proportional reduction is in the use of prosimians (1178) which represents a decrease of 94%. The total number of new world monkeys is down from 904 in 2008 to 700 in 2011 (22.5%), and use of old world monkeys decreased from 7404 to 5312 (28%).

 

Most animals used in the EU in 2011 originated from EU breed­ing centers. However larger numbers of cats, dogs, ferrets, and old world monkeys were from non-EU breeding centers.

 

By far the most animals were used for biological studies of funda­mental nature (46.1%), an increase in total number of almost 716,000 animals, especially mice and fish, in comparison to 2008. Research and development in the fields of human medicine, veterinary medi­cine, and dentistry accounted for 18.8% of animal use and decreased in comparison to 2008 by almost 576,000 animals. Production and quality control of products and devices in human medicine, veteri­nary medicine and dentistry required 14% of the total number of animals (192,000 fewer than in 2008 although in this area the use of rabbits increased by more than 81,000 animals), while toxicological and other safety evaluation represented 8.75% of the total number of animals and decreased by about 37,000 animals.

 

Regarding the types of toxicological tests and safety evaluations performed, the proportion of animals used for acute and sub-acute tests has increased over the last four reports from 36% to 47.5%, representing 8,400 animals since the previous report, and the use of animals for reproductive toxicity testing has increased since 2008 by almost 19,000 animals.

 

Of note, of the animals used for toxicological or other safety evaluations, the percentage of animals used for the toxicological evaluation of cosmetics and toiletries was only 0.24%, i.e., less than 2500 animals.

 

This report was the last required by Directive 86/609/EEC. The submission and publication of data under the new Directive 2010/63/EU has been revised.

 

 

Adapted from COM(2013)859 (final)

December 5, 2013



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