The UK has, this
week, become the first country to submit ‘additional’ animal statistics under a
new EU reporting requirement.
The EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes
(2010/63) now requires that each EU country give details of the animals that
are killed in research facilities that were not used in any regulated
Unlike the Annual Statistics, produced by EU countries, the additional numbers
refer to the total number of animals which have been kept in the same regulated
conditions, but without the potential of harm or suffering from scientific
procedures. See here for further information.
The UK’s Additional Statistics for 2017 show that 1.81 million
non-genetically altered (non-GA) animals were bred for scientific procedures,
but were killed or died without being used in regulated procedure.
The majority of these animals were mice (80%), rats (11%) and fish (7%) many of
which were breeding animals used to sustain breeding groups.
Dr Sara Wells, of MRC Harwell, UK, welcomed the publication as a milestone in transparency
and openness. “The broadening of the focus of the legislation will ensure that
the scientific community and public are properly informed of the numbers of all
animals involved in research”, she said.
The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) has responded to the recent European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals statement on the use of animals in neuroscience, which claimed that, ‘Animal testing is inherently uncertain and is a misleading indicator for human trials’.
In its own response statement FENS said: ‘The value of animal-based research for wide-reaching scientific and medical advances, including in neuroscience, cannot be overstated.’
The statement, also backed by EARA, EFPIA, GIRCOR, RSB, TVV and Wellcome, continued: ‘While there is an element of uncertainty in drug-related R&D, the use of animals in neuroscience research has undoubtedly contributed to our ever-improving understanding of the human brain and important advances in the treatment of neurological diseases.’
This year’s Nobel Prize winners for Physiology or Medicine used animal models to develop their novel cancer therapy.
James P. Allison, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA, and Tasuku Honjo, of Kyoto University, Japan, discovered in mice a way of unleashing immune cells to attack tumours by turning off the safeguards in the immune system that prevent it from attacking human tissue.
In turn, new drugs can now be developed offering hope to patients with advanced and previously untreatable cancer. Immune checkpoint therapy is already used to treat people with the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma.
Cancer kills millions of people each year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumour cells this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy. Continue reading →
A leader column in The Times newspaper has called on governments across the world to require airlines to carry animals used for research.
The newspaper was commenting on an article it ran on the formal complaint to the US Department of Transportation by the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), which has accused four airlines operating in the USA, of discrimination by refusing to carry animals for use in medical research when the same animals can be carried as pets, farm animals or for zoos.
In its complaint NABR said British Airways, China Southern, Qatar Airways and United Airlines must comply with federal laws and that their failure to transport research animals ‘will slow down the progress of essential and life-saving biomedical research that is necessary for drugs, treatments, cures and the prevention of disease’.
The opinion piece says: “When should a government be able to tell a privately run airline what it should and should not carry? A good answer is: when lives are at stake. On this basis passengers are barred from taking knives and guns on board civilian aircraft. There is a similar argument to be made in favour of airlines carrying animals bred for scientific research. This research saves lives.”
Belgian researchers have countered an uncritical feature interview with animal rights activists who repeated factual inaccuracies about animal research and likened scientists to Nazis.
In response to the pieces in De Morgen and Humo (both in Flemish) the scientists refuted the claims that animal experiments are unreliable, that computer simulations and artificial intelligence are fully-fledged alternatives, that scientists just “do what they want” and that animal experiments are of no use (an attack on basic research). Full translation of Humo article
“Presenting researchers as Nazis is all too easy when we all reap the benefits of modern medicine,” said an article signed by Professor Rufin Vogels (KU Leuven), Professor Wim Van Duffel (KU Leuven and Harvard Medical School) and the animal research portal Infopunt Proefdieronderzoek (IPPO).
The response is as follows:
I and a number of colleagues are disappointed that for the second month in a row De Morgen forms a platform for the dissemination of incorrect information about animal testing. This time on the basis of an interview from Humo with three animal activists. Animal welfare is of course an important topic, but it is unfortunate that these three are given the opportunity to make statements about the context in which and the reasons for animal testing in Flanders, without making any comments. Continue reading →
The World Health Organization (WHO) learned about the new outbreak in early May, but suspects that, since April, a total of 44 people have been infected with Ebola including 23 deaths. Three of the deaths involved health care workers. Continue reading →
A world-renowned German biomedical research institution has responded strongly to criticism from an activist group that has targeted one of its researchers.
Activist group Ärzte gegen Tierversuche (Doctors Against Animal Experiments) protested about the research of Prof. Gary Lewin and his team, at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin, describing it as ‘absurd’.
MDC has now hit back with Martin Lohse, CEO of MDC, explaining that while criticism is part of science, personally defaming researchers is ‘unacceptable’.
“We carry out our research in the interest of the sick, the elderly and children – groups that do not have a sufficient lobby. Discovering and exploring new therapeutic options for them corresponds to both our state and social mission, ” Mr Lohse added.
Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft) has produced its 2016 annual statistics on animal research procedures for Germany. These statistics have seen some big changes from previous years and we will attempt to show comparisons according to the different methodologies used. Germany produces two sets of data as part of the Animal Protection Act.
7(2) – procedures on animals
4(3) – animals killed solely for tissues or organs without any prior procedures
A mouse procedure
Historically, Germany has used data from animals used under both §7(2) and §4(3) of the Animal Protection Act to create a dataset of animals used in research. This dataset was broken down by varying categories including use, severity, genetic status and more. This year, while the old totals can be seen, the main datasets are numbers of procedures on animals, excluding animals killed for tissues or organs (under §4(3)). This newer methodology puts Germany in line with the EU reporting requirements for animals in research – allowing for easier comparisons between countries.
In 2016, Germany reported 2,189,261 procedures on animals, up 7.1% from 2015. The number of animals is slightly lower at 2,131,448 (due to some animals being used in more than one procedure during 2016). Continue reading →