Animal testing in Europe – comparative figures

 

Contents
Member State Statistics
EU Statistical Report
Differences and Trends
Reporting Requirements

Member State Statistics

Every year, EU Member States must report annual statistics on the use of animals for scientific purposes to the European Union. Other European countries that are not in the EU have similar laws, although the format of the data they collect may differ from the standardised format used in the EU. This graph shows the most recent statistics available on the use of animals in research in Europe.

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Country Number of procedures using animals Year
Austria 236,459 2016
Belgium1 535,829 2016
Bulgaria 12,695 2014
Croatia 25,988 2014
Cyprus 640 2014
Czech Republic 230,772 2017
Denmark 241,637 2015
Estonia 3,726 2016
Finland 105,615 2016
France 1,918,481 2016
Germany 2,189,261 2016
Great Britain 3,936,723 2016
Greece 47,784 2015
Hungary 170,075 2016
Ireland 226,934 2016
Italy 607,097 2016
Latvia 5,548 2016
Lithuania 2,439 2015
Luxembourg 21,240 2016
Netherlands 403,370 2016
Northern Ireland 22,214 2016
Norway 11,606,168 2016
Poland 184,489 2016
Portugal 46,556 2014
Romania 19,632 2015
Slovakia 12,855 2016
Slovenia 6,819 2016
Spain 917,986 2016
Sweden 350,664 2016
Switzerland 629,773 2016

1Since 2014, the responsibility for collecting animal research statistics in Belgium lies with the three regions rather than the federal government.

EU Statistical Report

Every three years, the European Commission produces a report on the statistics on the number of animals used for scientific purposes. In 2011, just under 11.5 million animals were used for scientific and other experimental purposes in the European Union.1 Around 80% were rodents and rabbits; 61% of the total number of animals were mice.

Classes of species used in EU Member States in 2011

Classes of animals used in EU Member States in 2011

eu-purposes

Purposes of the experiments in which animals were used in EU Member States in 2011

These data come from the EU’s Seventh Report on animal research statistics, published in 2013. Since then, there have been important changes in the reporting of statistical data. The next report will be published by November 2019 – the delay is due to a change in reporting requirements outlined in the new Directive that went into force in 2010.

Differences and trends

The number of animals used in biomedical research can vary highly per country in Europe and over time. The more biomedical research is carried out, the more animals are used. This means that differences in R&D budget can influence the number of animals used. Larger countries tend to have more universities and research organisations than small ones, and are therefore more likely to carry out the type of research that depends on animal studies. The ratio of species can also contribute: for example, you can house many more zebrafish in one tank than rats in one cage (the large number of zebrafish embryos partially explains the high number in Norway).

These factors make it difficult to show trends in the use of animals for scientific purposes, but we can see an overall steady decline since the 1950s. The 3Rs, focusing on replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals in research, is the underlying principle behind all animal research and has undoubtedly helped the decline in numbers over the years. However, the advent of precise gene editing techniques and the related new possibilities using genetically altered animals has sparked an increase in the number of mice used (source).

Reporting requirements

Since the introduction of the new European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, all EU Member States submit their statistical information using a common template to enable fair comparison across Europe. This means that statistical data from 2014 onwards cannot directly be compared with pre-2014 data. Previously, all countries had their own reporting formats – the main differences since the new reporting requirements are that animals used in the breeding process of genetically altered animals are now included; each use of the animal is counted as opposed to each animal; and animals are now counted at the end of their use in research rather than the beginning, to allow for actual severity reporting.

1 EU 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

‘Additional statistics’

New reporting requirements under EU Directive 2010/63 have been introduced in the autumn of 2018.

The Directive now requires that every five years (the first report deals with 2017) each EU country must submit details of the animals that are killed in research facilities that were not used in any regulated procedure.

Unlike the Annual Statistics, produced by EU countries, which count the number of procedures, these “Additional Statistics” count the number of animals. As with the Annual Statistics, these “Additional Statistics” are expected to be broken down according to the species of animals, however, only the standard statistics are broken down by severity, as this is not relevant to these additional animals, which did not undergo a regulated procedure.

Attached is a link to the advice being given by Understanding Animal Research on its website, which will help to understand these new statistics further.