Monthly Archives: February 2017

Latest animal research statistics from Belgium, Greece and Poland

Speaking of Research try to keep on top of the latest statistics coming from governments around the world. This post will look at three countries which have recently published their 2015 statistics.

Belgium

Belgium’s three regions (Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia) independently publish the statistics for their region. We have collated the results (1-3) into a single table covering all of Belgium.

Animal research in Belgium for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Animal research in Belgium for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

There were 566,603 procedures in Belgium in 2015, down almost 15% from the previous year. The numbers fell in all three regions of Belgium, with the number of procedures in Flanders falling 14%, Brussels falling 7% and Wallonia falling 18%. By species, the biggest falls were in fish (down 24%), rats (down 46%) and guinea pigs (down 19%). This all follows a general downward trend in numbers over the past two decades.

Trends in Belgian animal experiments 1997-2015.

Trends in Belgian animal experiments 1997-2015.

Unusually for a European country, rabbits were used more than rats in 2015 (not true in 2014). Mice, rats, fish and birds still accounted for 87% of research, rising to 85% when rabbits were included.

animal-research-by-species-in-belgium-pie-chart-2015

Links:

(1) Brussels – Statistieken in verband met het gebruik van proefdieren in het brussels hoofdstedelijk gewest in 2015
(2) Flanders – Proefdieren in Vlaanderen in 2015 uitgedrukt in cijfers
(3) Wallonia – Statistiques d’utilisation des animaux dans les experiences en wallonie en 2015
(4) Belgium 2014 Statistics

Greece

Greece published its 2015 statistics recently (5).

Animal research in Greece for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Animal research in Greece for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

There were 47,784 procedures on animals in Greece in 2015, a rise of 13% (5,541 procedures) from the previous year. Over 97%  were mice, fish, rats and birds (mainly mice and fish). The number of fish more than tripled to 13,817 procedures. Unlike the previous year, there were procedures on cats (47), dogs (4) and primates (3). These species account for less than 0.15% of animals used.

animal-research-by-species-in-greece-pie-chart-2015

The severity statistics show that 70% were classed as non-recovery or mild. 6.5% were classified as severe.

Severity of animal experiments in Greece

Links:

(5) Greece 2015 – Πληροφορίες σχετικά µε τη χρήση ζώων για επιστηµονικούς σκοπούς στην Ελλάδα για το έτος 2015

Poland

After the publication of the 2014 statistics we had to make an editor’s note because we spotted some unusual trends. It turned out that Poland had erroneously added over 400,000 fish to their statistics. We have concerns about the 2015 data which is why we have not written it up in full.

The 2015 statistics show that there were 174,456 procedures on animals in 2015. This is a 25% fall compared with the previous year (6).

This data may be incorrect

This data may be incorrect. See text below.

Our concerns are twofold. Firstly, the number of procedures on fish – 11,561 – is exactly the same as the data for 2014. This seems exceptionally unlikely. Secondly, there appears to be a discrepancy between numbers of animal procedures in the severity tables for 2015, and the numbers in the basic data. For example, the severity tables show 88,776 procedures on mice. The general data for 2015 shows 88,601 procedures.

For these reasons, we recommend caution when using this data. Speaking of Research will continue to try and get to the bottom of this data (as we did for the 2014 statistics).

Links

(6) Poland 2015 – Zwierzęta wykorzystane w procedurach w 2015
(7) Poland 2014 Statistics

Speaking of Research

Help us help you!

The Speaking of Research website provides a wealth of information for the public about why animal research remains an important part of scientific, medical and veterinary discoveries. While our news blog may be most relevant to those involved in the field, the static pages provide information about the animal model, medical developments, regulations, statistics and more. So we believe the more easily the public can find our website, the better for everyone in the field.

So what happens when a member of the public searches for “animal testing” (which, according to Google Trends, is searched for around three times as much as “animal research”)?

animal-testing-search-annotated

Eight of nine search results on the first page provide a negative idea of animal research. The last one provides arguments from both sides. No wonder that young people are now opposed to animal research by a 14 percentage point margin.

pew-research-animal-research

There is, however, something you can do. Google’s algorithms mean that websites that are linked to by .edu and .gov websites will be more trusted and be pushed further up the search results. See more on the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs

We need you to get www.speakingofresearch.com added to your University department website (or Government website if you are that position). So please send an email to your department website editor (and convince friends in other life science departments to do likewise) to ask them to add links to pro-research organisations on an appropriate page. Many of you will have direct control over sections of your department’s page, so please take a few seconds to add the middle section of the letter below.

Dear Webmaster

Please can you add the following paragraph to our departmental website, on our page about animal research here: <insert url>

For more information about the role of animals in research we recommend the following website:

http://www.speakingofresearch.com – Speaking of Research: Providing accurate information about the important role of animal experiments in medical and veterinary research.

Kind Regards

<insert name>

Why not help a few key organisations by asking them to add more than one website, such as:

http://www.speakingofresearch.com – Speaking of Research
http://www.amprogress.org – Americans for Medical Progress
http://www.fbresearch.org – Foundation for Biomedical Research
http://www.animalresearch.info – Animal Research Information

With your help we can ensure the public sees the facts about animal research!

Speaking of Research

Canada’s animal research in numbers for 2015

The statistics for animal research conducted in Canada in 2015 have been released by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). These numbers reflect research conducted by CCAC-certified institutions and by people working at CCAC-certified institutions, even if the research involves animals located outside of Canada. The criteria for CCAC certification can be found here. This also means that not all animals used for research in Canada are included in these reports. The CCAC reports that in 2015, 3,570,352 animals were used for research, teaching, and testing in Canada. This is a decrease of 4.8% from the 3,750,125 animals that were used in 2014.

Animal research in Canada for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Animal research in Canada for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Similar to other countries, mice remain the most popular species used for animal research, with an overall increase of 12%. Fish are a close second in terms of use in 2015, though there was a decrease of 26% in their use compared to 2014. The number of cattle used in research approximately doubled compared to 2014. All other reported species saw decreases in reported use.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

84.2% of the animals used in research and testing were conducted on mice, rats, fish, and birds, which was slightly lower than in other countries. However, with the inclusion of cattle, this percentage rises to 93.9%.  Similarly to other countries, monkeys (4,942), cats (5,035), and dogs (9,573) comprised a small proportion of animals used for research, together accounting for 0.5% of all research animals, with an overall decrease of 5,592 animals from 2014 for these species.

CCAC

Pain, suffering, and harm were also measured and classified under four categories of invasiveness:

  • None: Experiments which cause little of no discomfort or stress
  • Mild: Experiments which cause minor stress or pain of short duration
  • Moderate: Expierments which cause moderate to severe distress or discomfort
  • Severe: Procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals.

It is important to understand that every animal in a group will receive the highest category of any single animal in that group, so if a study involved giving different animals different doses of a compound (in a single study), then all animals would receive a category of invasiveness equal to that received by the highest dose group. For further details on what these categories mean, please see here. In 2015, 31.1% of experiments were classified as “none” (this includes studies where the animal are anaesthetised and never woken up), 37.4% were considered “mild”, 29.5% were “moderate”, and 2% were “severe”.

Animals can be used in more than one protocol, provided these additional protocols do not result in pain. Some animals have been counted more than once in this dataset, which is why the total is higher than the total number of animals used in 2015. These data cannot be compared accurately to animal data reports prior to 2012.

Animals can be used in more than one protocol, provided these additional protocols do not result in pain. Some animals have been counted more than once in this dataset, which is why the total is higher than the total number of animals used in 2015. These data cannot be compared accurately to animal data reports prior to 2012.

Overall, there seems to be an upward trend in the number of animals used in research in Canada over the last 20 years, although this pattern is not particularly clear due to annual fluctuations. These fluctuations may be a consequence of the accounting procedures used (which changed in 2012), and may only reflect animals used in CCAC-certified institutions.

Trends in Canadian animal experiments 1996-2015. 2010 data temporarily unavailable due to an accounting error being fixed.

Trends in Canadian animal experiments 1996-2015. 2010 data temporarily unavailable due to an accounting error being fixed.

Finally, the CCAC Animal Data Report 2015 provides some information on animal use. The most common purpose of animal experiments was for basic research (61.2%), followed by “development of products or appliances for human or veterinary medicine” (16.0%); studies into human and animal diseases or disorders (12.9%); Regulatory tests (“animal testing”) (5.5%); and finally education and training (4.4%).

For more information see our Briefing on Animal Research in Canada.

Jeremy Bailoo

The USDA’s removal of information about animal research is a step backwards for transparency

Speaking of Research has considerable concerns about the wealth of information that has been removed from the USDA website in the last week. The USDA has removed access to an online database that allowed the public to easily obtain documents involving the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).This information includes the annual reports showing the number of animals used in research each year, and the animal welfare reports that are produced. [Direct links to annual reports were broken, but the reports still exist on the USDA website – Ed.]

According to Science Magazine, tens of thousands of reports have been removed, relating to around 1200 research labs and 6500 non-research facilities that are registered or licensed by the USDA. A statement from the USDA says:

Based on our commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals, APHIS is implementing actions to remove documents it posts on APHIS’ website involving the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that contain personal information

No doubt many will see some irony in starting a statement about the removal of information with “Based on our commitment to being transparent”. That said, it is not yet clear if reports are being removed permanently or simply temporarily removed until they have been assessed for privacy issues. Though the previously public information will still be available through FOIA requests, the statement concludes by saying “If the same records are frequently requested via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website”.

It is not just animal rights groups who have expressed concern. Matthew Bailey, President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, said:

“I would certainly agree that protection of personal information is of utmost importance, especially given the rich history of targeting the individuals involved in animal research. However, this change also makes it more time consuming, although not impossible, for organizations like FBR to analyze trends in animal use in research.”

Speaking of Research also has concerns. We believe the availability of data can foster an environment of openness and transparency about animal research. When information is hidden, particularly where it was once available, the public will naturally wonder why many stakeholders have cause for concern: the public wonders what is being hidden and why, and researchers must devote even more resources to combatting the public perception that they are not transparent.

USDA Statistics showing number of animas used in research

Speaking of Research uses the type of information that was available to help explain the realities of animal research to the public and media.

The USDA’s decision is also out of step with the direction of travel of many other countries. Approximately one month ago, after urgings from Speaking of Research, the EU website added a new page providing links to the annual statistical reports on animal research of member countries.

In our own commitment to openness, Speaking of Research has uploaded the Annual Reports of the USDA’s animal research to its website. They are available on our US Statistics page, or can be found below. We will be looking at what other information we can practically add in coming weeks.

Thousands of removed USDA documents have now been archived here.

Speaking of Research