Category Archives: Statistics

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

Germany’s animal research in numbers for 2015

The statistics for animal research conducted in Germany in 2015 were submitted to the European Commission last week. We have summarised the data below. We compare that to the 2014 statistics also available on their website.

Tierversuche

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

Germany used 2,799,961 animals in 2015, with an overall decrease (15.5%) in animal use when compared to 2014. Similar to other countries, mice remain the most popular species used in animal research, with an increase in use of 5% compared to 2014. Fish, birds, other rodents and other non-mammals saw sizable percentage decreases in their overall use compared to 2014, albeit compared to the total number of animals used, these relative differences are still small. Fish in particular saw a decrease because of differences in reporting between 2014 and 2015. According to the Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaf (BMEL), in 2014, “708,462 “other fish” (including about 563,600 fish larvae) were reported (21.38 percent). By 2015, however, the share of animals in the “other fish” category was only 2.88% (80,777 animals).”

Tierversuche

Mice, rats and fish account for 91% of all animal procedures, rising to 95% if you include rabbits. Similarly to 2014, Germany remains one of the few European countries where rabbits are the fourth most commonly used species in 2015. Dogs, cats and primates accounted for 0.31% of all animals, despite a doubling in the number of animals used for these species.

Tierversuche

Click to Enlarge

This year was the second year where there was retrospective assessment and reporting of severity (i.e. reporting how much an animal actually suffered rather than how much it was predicted to suffer prior to the study). The report showed that 43% of procedures were classed as mild, 17% as moderate, 4% as severe, and 36% as non-recovery, where an animal is anaesthetised for surgery, and then not woken up afterwards. Compared to 2014, there were some noticeable shifts in relation to severity. While the number of procedures which caused animals moderate and severe levels of stress and distress decreased, the numbers of procedures that were terminal increased.

Severity of animal experiments in Germany

Click to Enlarge

Looking at the historical data, we see that like several other countries, the number of animal experiments increased steadily between 2000-2012. The sharp increase in 2014 followed by a decrease in 2015, reflect in part differences in the accounting procedures used between 2014 and 2015. Thus, it is too early to say whether the fall in 2015 is a one-off or a sign of a future drop-off in animal experiments. It is likely that this drop also partly reflects a decrease in funding to science during the recession and economic turmoil of the past few years. Next year’s data may provide some insight into whether and how this trend will continue.

Trends in German animal experiments 2000-15. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in German animal experiments 2000-15. Click to Enlarge.

Other interesting information provided by the annual statistical release includes:

  • 8% of animals used were bred within the EU [Table 3]
  • The main purpose of research was “Basic Research” (58.7%), followed by “Regulatory use and Routine production” (22.5%), “Maintenance of colonies of established genetically altered animals, not used in other procedures”, “Translational and applied Research” (13.6%), and all other uses (5.2 %) [Table 9]
  • Two-thirds of the total dogs, cats and primates were used for Regulatory testing [Table 9]
  • 40% of animals were genetically altered, compared with 60% which were not. Over 98% of the genetically altered animals were mice or zebrafish [Table 20]

For further information about animal research (Tierversuche) in Germany see our background briefing, available in English and German.

Speaking of Research

2015 Statistics: http://www.bmel.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/Tier/Tierschutz/Versuchstierdaten2015.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

2014 Statistics: http://www.bmel.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/Tier/Tierschutz/Versuchstierdaten2014.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

N.B. Some our more eagle-eyed readers may have noted the 2014 statistics referenced in this article do not correspond to those we published a year ago. This is because the German authorities changed the counting methodologies for 2015 and re-released an altered 2014 statistics so that they could be fairly compared to the 2015 data.

The Netherlands publishes 2015 animal research statistics

There were 479,580 procedures on animals in the Netherlands for scientific purposes in 2015, down almost 15% from the previous year. This was according to the latest report by the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA).

numbers-of-animal-procedures-in-netherlands-dierproeven-2015

Species of animals used for research in Netherlands in 2015. Click to Enlarge.

There were falls in the number of most species used, with the exception of rats (up by under 0.5%) and other non-mammals (up 62%), of which most of the rise were frogs. Larger falls came from cows (down 56%), chickens (down 40%) and pigs (36%).

animal-research-by-species-in-netherlands-pie-chart-dierproeven-2015

Click to Enlarge.

Mice, rats, birds and fish are the most commonly used animals, together accounting for over 90% of all procedures – this is similar to previous years and the figures found in many other EU countries. Dogs, cats and primates together account for less than 0.3% of all procedures in the Netherlands.

animals-used-in-netherlands-holland-for-animal-research-dierproeven-1999-2015

Trends in animal procedures for research in the Netherlands 1999-2015. Click to Enlarge.

In 2014 the Netherlands began to produce a set of statistics in accordance with the EU’s method of counting (though they included 2013 figures for comparison). There is a minor difference between how the EU and Netherlands count animal procedures. Primarily in that the Dutch system includes animals killed without a prior procedure (for example, the killing of a mouse for tissue samples that has had no other intervention).

According to the report:

The EU system [is] based on:

The total number of animal studies registered in 2015 (528,159 procedures) minus the number of animals killed without preceding procedure (48,579 procedures) is the number of animal studies for the European registration (479,580 procedures).

We have chosen to use statistics according the EU method of counting for our entire analysis as it makes for an easier comparison with other EU countries. As we can see, both methods tend to reflect the same rises and falls in animal numbers. While the EU counting statistics do not go far back enough to see a trend, we can notice a downwards direction in the Dutch counting methods of number of procedures.

Severity of animal experiments in Holland

2015 was the second year for which the Netherlands has included statistics on the retrospective assessment of severity (i.e. reporting how much an animal actually suffered rather than how much it was predicted to suffer prior to the study). The report showed that 72.2% of procedures were classed as mild (78% in 2014), 19.3% as moderate (17% in 2014), 3.6% as severe (2.7% in 2014), and 4.9% as non-recovery (2% in 2014), where an animal is anaesthetised for surgery, and then not woken up afterwards. As this is the second year of retrospective assessment, the methods used are continuing to be developed (such grimace scales).

animal testing, animal research, vivisection, animal experiment

Most animals used in the Netherlands were mice.

Here is some other interesting information provided by the annual statistical release.

  • 7%  animals were genetically modified, 95.8% of which were mice.
  • Anaesthesia was not used in 66.5% of procedures because it was unnecessary, it was used in 31.1% of procedures where it was needed, and the remaining 2.37% was procedures where anaesthesia was not applied because it would disrupt the study. They record analgesia separately, that’s 83.9% (not used, not needed) – 9.24% (used) – 6.89% (not used, disruptive
  • The main purpose of research was applied research (29.7%), followed by toxicology testing (28.6%), fundamental scientific research (26.4%), breeding (10.7%) and finally education (4.09%)

For animal research statistics of countries around the world please see our statistics page.

Source of Dutch Statistics: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/dierproeven/documenten/rapporten/2016/12/15/jaaroverzicht-dierproeven-en-proefdieren

See previous years’ reports:

New Zealand publishes statistics showing use of animals in research in 2015

Today, the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand published its 2015 annual report on “Statistics on the Use of Animals in Research, Testing and Teaching”.  It shows the number of animals used in research in 2015 was 225,310, down 27% from the previous year.

Species of animals used for research, testing and teaching in New Zealand in 2015. Click to Enlarge.

Species of animals used for research, testing and teaching in New Zealand in 2015. Click to Enlarge.

While the fall in animals used seems very large, the past fifteen years show such fluctuations are normal, with 30% rises and falls appearing as a regular feature. Overall there seems no clear trend up or down.

Trends in animal used in research in New Zealand 2000-2015. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in animal used in research in New Zealand 2000-2015. Click to Enlarge.

Whereas in most countries mice, rats, fish and birds account for over 90% of animals in research, in New Zealand it is under 50%. Instead over 40% of animals are cattle, sheep and deer (down from 45% in 2014), reflecting the huge amount of agricultural research being done. Interesting only 1% of cattle and deer die or are euthanised (compared with 99% of the mice). See Appendix 1 for more information on the proportion euthanised.

animal-research-by-species-in-new-zealand-pie-chart-2015

No primates are used in research in New Zealand, nor have they been for a while. Dogs and cats accounted for just under 0.6% of research.

Here is some other interesting information provided by the annual statistical release. Page numbers refer to the source  in the annual report.

  • 46% of research is conducted by universities (31%) and crown research institutes (15%) , most of the rest is done by commercial organisations (42%). The proportion done by commercial organisations is up from the previous year, though actual numbers are down. [p. 18]
  • Only 3.4% of animals used in 2015 were transgenic, though this is up from 1.9% in 2014. [p. 7]
  • Only 39% of animals die or are euthanised; this tends to polarise between high rates for mice and rats, and a very low proportion for sheep and cattle. The number euthanised is up slightly from 2014, when it was 34%, and reflects the higher proportion of small animal species used in 2015. [p. 17]
  • A large rise in veterinary research made it the most common purpose of research (39.5%). This was followed by animal husbandry research (20.2%), teaching (19.5%) and basic biological research (18.3%). This is a big change from 2014 when basic research was the biggest reason for using animals.
Severity of research. Image from MPI. Click to Enlarge.

Severity of research. Image from MPI. Click to Enlarge.

The Animal Welfare Regulations also demand researchers to grade animal manipulations according to a five point scale:

  • “no impact or virtually no impact” – manipulations that causes no stress or pain or virtually no stress or pain
  • “little impact” – manipulations of minor impact and short duration
  • “moderate impact” – manipulations of minor impact and long duration or moderate impact and short duration
  • “high impact” – manipulations of moderate impact and long duration or high impact and short duration
  • “very high impact” – manipulations of high impact and long duration.

In 2015, 17.4% of animals were involved in research with no, or virtually no negative impact on the animal. 58.2% had little impact on the animal, 19.3% had moderate impact, and 5.5% were considered high  or very high impact. These last categories are up 1.6 percentage points from 2014.

We aim to keep our readers abreast of the latest developments in animal statistics worldwide. Keep your eyes out for more stats on the horizon.

Source of New Zealand animal research statistics.

See previous years’ publications on Speaking of Research:

Cows are the most common species of research animal in New Zealand. Image from Massey University.

Cows are the most common species of research animal in New Zealand. Image from Massey University.

Rise in animal experiments in Denmark in 2015

Last week we looked at the 2015 animal research statistics for Spain, this week we move our attention to Denmark.  The newly published report by the Animal Research Inspectorate (Dyreforsøgstilsynet) shows that the number of procedures on animals carried out in Denmark in 2015 was 241,657, up 21% from 2014. The number of animals used is likely to be very similar.

Animal Research in Denmark in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Animal Research in Denmark in 2015. Click to Enlarge

There were rises in the number of procedures on all the main species – mice, rats, fish and birds. Fish saw one of the larger increases, up over 8,000 (77%) from 2014. The only major decrease was a 70% fall in the number of procedures on dogs – which fell from 224 to 68.

Mice, rats, fish and birds accounted for over 96% of research in Denmark.

Mice, rats, fish and birds accounted for over 96% of research in Denmark.

Mice, rats, fish and birds accounted for over 96% of research animals in Denmark, similar to many other EU countries. Dogs and cats accounted for just 0.05% of research animals, with no primates used in either 2015 or 2014.

Severity of animal experiments in Denmark

The new EU guidelines also require retrospective reporting of animal suffering in experiments. Of the 241,657 procedures in Denmark in 2015, over 90% were mild or moderate, 8.7% were non-recovery (where the animal is fully anaesthetised before surgery and then never woken up) and just 0.9% were severe. The proportion of severe experiments is below what has been reported in many other European countries. Most severe experiments were on mice. For more information see Figure 6 of the Government statistical release (in Spanish).

Animal Research Trends in Denmark

Animal Research Trends in Denmark

The number of animals used in testing and research since 2009 has gently decreased from over 290,000 to just over 240,000, a 17% decrease. The Danish report shows in 1980 the number of experiments was over 350,000, falling to 330,000 by 1990 and 300,000 in 2000. All of this evidences a long term decline in the number of animal procedures.

Other insights that could be gleaned from the statistics:

  • 16.1% of studies involved the use of genetically altered animals.
  • The most common use of animals was Translational and applied research (51%), followed by Basic Research (37%) and Regulatory use (9%).

We aim to keep our readers abreast of the latest developments in animal statistics worldwide. Keep your eyes out for more stats on the horizon.

Source of Danish statistics.

Rise in animals used in research in Spain in 2015

In this post we take a closer look at Spain’s recently published animal research statistics for 2015 (see previous years here). These show that in 2015, there were 858,946 procedures on animals for scientific purposes, up 5% from 2014 (821,570 procedures). The number of animals is likely to be very similar (with only 14,473 procedures on animals which had previously been used in prior research).

Animal Research in Spain in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Animal Research in Spain in 2015. Click to Enlarge

One of the main reasons for this rise is the large increase in the use of birds, mainly chickens, which more than doubled since 2014. Zebrafish, which saw a huge 250% rise in 2014, decreased by 30%. Cephalalopoda (e.g. Octopuses, squid and cuttlefish) almost doubled in number after being included in the 2014 statistics for the first time (in line with the EU Directive).

Animals used in research in Spain in 2015

Most research was on mice, fish, birds and rats

Mice, rats, fish and birds accounted for over 91% of research animals in Spain, roughly the same proportion as other EU countries. Dogs, cats and primates account for less than 0.2% of all research procedures in Spain in 2015; again, similar to other EU countries and to previous years in Spain.

Severity of animal experiments in Spain

The new EU guidelines also require retrospective reporting of animal suffering in experiments. Of the 858,946 procedures, 44.7% were mild, 38.5% were moderate, 8.0% were severe, and 8.7% non-recovery (where the animal is fully anaesthetised before surgery and then never woken up). For more information see Table 3 of the Government statistical release (in Spanish).

Animal Research Trends in Spain

Animal Research Trends in Spain

The number of animals used in testing and research since 2009 has fallen from a little over 1.4 million animals to just over 850,000 in 2015. These older statistics are available on the website of the Ministry for Agriculture.

Other insights that could be gleaned from the statistics:

  • 31.6% of studies involved the use of genetically altered animals.
  • Nearly all animals (~98%) came from within the EU
  • No wild caught primates were used. Of the 290 primates (not to be confused with the number of procedures on primates) 281 were either the grandchildren (F2) or beyond of wild caught animals.
  • The most common use of animals was Basic research (50.5%), followed by Translational and Applied Research (26.3%) and Regulatory use (16.8%).

We aim to keep our readers abreast of the latest developments in animal statistics worldwide. Keep your eyes out for more stats on the horizon.

Source of Spanish statistics: http://www.mapama.gob.es/es/ganaderia/temas/produccion-y-mercados-ganaderos/informedeusodeanimalesen2015_tcm7-436494.pdf

Animal Research Statistics in Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia in 2015

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.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic reported a 1% rise in the number of animal procedures to 234,366. This was mainly fish (38.5%), mice (31.5%), rats (13.1%) and birds (11.1%), with all remaining species collectively accounting for only about 6% of procedures in 2015.

numbers-of-animal-experiments-in-czech-republic-animal-testing-2015

Procedures on animals in the Czech Republic for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Dogs, cats and primates together accounted for less than 0.5% of research procedures (980). There was a marked rise in the use of fish (+20%), rats (+11%) and livestock (+45%), with decreases in mice (-9%) and reptiles/amphibians (-73%). Mice, rats, fish and birds accounted together for over 95% of procedures – similar to many other European countries.

animal-research-by-species-in-czech-republic-pie-chart-2015

The most common areas of research were “basic research” (39.7%),  “protection of the natural environment in the interests of the health or welfare of humans beings or animals” (27.0%) and “Translational and applied research” (8.9%).

There has been less animal research in the 2013-15 period than at almost any other time since 2000, though it is unclear from the statistics why this is.

animals-experiments-in-czech-republic-1994-2015

Trend over time in animal experiments in the Czech Republic. Click to Enlarge.

Source of Czech Republic statistics: http://eagri.cz/public/web/file/1497/EPZ15t_resorty.pdf

Estonia

The small Eastern European country of Estonia also provided its 2015 statistics recently, showing a 33% drop, from 6,164 procedures in 2014, to 4162 in 2015.

numbers-of-animal-experiments-in-estonia-animal-testing-2015

Procedures on animals in Estonia for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

animal-research-by-species-in-estonia-pie-chart-2015A number of species used in 2014 were not used in 2015. Procedures on cats fell from 126 to 0, and pigs and sheep (previously 10 procedures) also ceased. As is typical in many European countries, rodents, fish and birds accounted for most animal research in Estonia.

animal-research-severity-in-research-in-estonia-in-2015

Animal research severity statistics from Estonia, 2015

Most procedures were mild or moderate, with only 8% of procedures (mostly on mice, with 23 on rats) being classified as severe. You can see examples of how procedures might be classified on the example list produced by the EU.

Source of Estonian statistics: http://www.agri.ee/sites/default/files/content/loomakasvatus/loomkatsed-statistika-2015.pdf

Slovenia

Another small European country, Slovenia reported that it conducted 9,110 procedures in 2015, down 21% from 2014.

numbers-of-animal-experiments-in-slovenia-animal-testing-2015

Procedures on animals in Slovenia for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

The main change was the fall in mice by 22%. Mice still account for 94.6% of all animals used in research in Slovenia. Amphibians had not been used in studies in 2014, though the 95 animals may all have been from a single study.

As is the case in many smaller countries (but not all), most of the research was animal testing for regulatory purposes (74%), followed by translational and applied research (12.9%) and basic research (10.6%).

Source of Slovenian statistics: http://www.uvhvvr.gov.si/fileadmin/uvhvvr.gov.si/pageuploads/REGISTRI_IN_OBRAZCI/Zdravje_zivali/Dobrobit_zivali/Statisticni_podatki/UPORABA_ZIVALI_V_POSKUSIH_2015.pdf