|Member State Statistics|
|EU Statistical Report|
|Differences and Trends|
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.
|Country||Number of procedures using animals||Year|
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.
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).
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