European Union Report Indicates a Decrease in the Number of Animals Used in Research
EU Report highlights trends in animal research
Earlier this month, the European Commission released the “Seventh Report on the Statistics on the Number of Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes in the Member States of the European Union” which highlighted trends and significant changes to the use of animals in research. NAVS was pleased to learn that the EU reported a reduction of more than half of a million animals used in research in 2011* compared to 2008 (*France provided data from 2010). The total number of animals used in scientific research in the EU in 2011 was just under 11.5 million. Because the EU collects detailed information on animal usage, including the number of mice, rats and birds used, as well as information on specific usages of animals, much information can be gleaned from this data.
The report breaks down the data to indicate the percentages of animal species used, revealing that mice and rats are the most common animals used, accounting for approximately 75% of all animals used. Cold-blooded animals, like fish, amphibians and reptiles, were the next most frequently used group.
The Report also addresses the specific purposes of the experiments involving animals. This data revealed that over 60% of animals were used for studies of human medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry and for biological studies of fundamental nature. Of these the categories, research and development for human medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine saw the most significant decrease in animal usage from 2008.
The Report further distinguished the proportion of animals used for studies of human and animal diseases. Of the disease studies, nearly 90% of the animals were used for the study of human disease, including nervous system disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, while approximately 10% were used to study diseases specific to animals.
NAVS was encouraged to learn that animal research numbers in the EU have declined since 2008, and we appreciate the openness and transparency of this animal use data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) does not report animal usage data in the U.S. as transparently, and it is critical that this be changed, as such information is essential for our efforts to identify priorities and to measure progress in changing the way science is conducted. Please contact APHIS and insist that the United States become more open and transparent about use of animals in research in our country. If other countries around the world are already collecting and analyzing such information, there is no good excuse why our country cannot do the same.