Tag Archives: Netherlands

The Netherlands publishes their 2014 animal research statistics

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA) have produced statistics showing the number of procedures carried out on animals in 2014.

The total number of procedures carried out on animals in 2014 was 563,769 procedures, up 25% from 2013.

Procedures on animals in the Netherlands for research in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Procedures on animals in the Netherlands for research in 2014. 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 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.

CC-BY: www.speakingofresearch.com

Click to Enlarge

This year was also the first 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 78% of procedures were classed as mild, 17% as moderate, 2.7% as severe, and 2% as non-recovery, where an animal is anaesthetised for surgery, and then not woken up afterwards.

Animal Experiments in the Netherlands in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Animal Experiments in the Netherlands in 2014. Click to Enlarge

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

  • The Dutch statistics include animals which have been harvested for organs/tissues/etc, but not otherwise used in a procedure. This accounted for 57,258 animals, of which over 97% were mice, rats or fish.
  • A little over 25% of the animals were genetically modified, most of which were mice.
  • Anaesthesia was not used in 67.3% of procedures because it was unnecessary, it was used in 30.9% of procedures where it was needed, and the remaining 1.9% was procedures where anaesthesia was not applied because it would disrupt the study.
  • The main purpose of research was applied research (32.1%), followed by fundamental scientific research (27.6%), toxicology and safety testing (25.8%), breeding (10.5%) and finally education (3.2%).
animal testing, animal research, vivisection, animal experiment

Mouse being held

It is important to note that this year the Dutch authorities have changed their statistical reporting to fit with new EU regulations. According to the report:

The change of registration methodology is a big adjustment for both the NVWA and the licence holders. The licence holders have adjusted their registration systems or in some cases have even completely replaced them with new systems. The institutes have cleaned up their systems, which made a few licence holders conclude of some animal research dossiers that these data had not been correctly reported in previous years. They have reported these experiments in 2014, which has led to an increase in experiments that were counted in this reporting year. This has resulted in approximately 25,000 extra experiments.

Speaking of Research seek to be the best source of information on the internet on animal research and testing statistics. Unfortunately language barriers mean that we often find it hard to get statistics from non-English speaking countries. If you speak multiple languages and are able to help us out finding the statistics from other countries we would be very grateful. See more here.

Part 2: University of Toronto ends live primate research – Outsourcing Controversy

 Earlier this week we wrote about the University of Toronto’s public statements concerning the end of their on-site primate research. A number of broader questions were raised by considering similar cases and articles.  Among them, what does it mean for a university to claim that it does not engage in a particular type of research?  In the case of the University of Toronto, the same article announcing the end of their primate research indicated that Univesity of Toronto researchers will continue primate studies at other institutions. 

Although this seems like a small point that concerns only a single animal research program, it is illustrative of larger questions and issues that deserve more thoughtful consideration.  One is what it means to say that a researcher, institution, or nation does or does not conduct a particular type of research. It is not at all obvious, and thus is an easy thing to manipulate in public presentation. For example, ask the following questions:

  1. Does that mean only that they do not house animals and conduct studies, or do not conduct that work independently on their own campus or within their own borders?
  2. Or does it mean that they not only do not conduct the work, but also do not support the work in any way, with collaborative effort, resources, or their approval? 
  3. Or does it mean that they not only do not conduct the work, but also do not support the work and would refuse any benefit arising from the work?

It is not only the University of Toronto ending its housing of monkeys and instead relying on collaborative opportunities in the U.S.that raises these questions. The point is also well illustrated in considering whether Canada and other countries are, or are not, involved in biomedical research with chimpanzees. One of the frequently raised points used to argue against ape research is that biomedical research with chimpanzees is conducted in only two countries — the U.S. and Gabon.  But what does that mean? And is that really true?

In fact, a recent CTV news show highlighted the fact that studies for Canadians are performed at a U.S. chimpanzee research facility funded largely by a federal grant to maintain national research resources in the U.S.  The fact that Canadians are involved in chimpanzee research is not hidden in any way, but is easy to misconstrue.

In Canada, there’s no outright ban, but no one is actually doing it.

Instead, Canadians commission studies at research facilities like the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, the largest facility of its type in the world. It’s home to nearly 7,000 primates, 360 of them chimpanzees.”

It is not only Canadians. Scientists from a number of other countries engage in behavioral and biomedical research collaboration involving chimpanzees housed in U.S. research institutions. Furthermore, when the Netherlands became the last European country to ban chimpanzee research almost a decade ago, it was acknowledged that because the opportunity for chimpanzee research remained in the U.S.everyone could be assured of continuation of the work without the cost, controversy, or responsibility of having to maintain the possibility within their own country.  A 2003 article highlights this point:

The end of European ape research, long sought by animal rights activists, was accelerated by a report published in 2001 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW). It concluded that high costs and decreasing scientific need had made chimp studies all but superfluous. In rare instances where ape research will be crucial to combat a human disease, the panel said, large colonies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. would be better equipped.

However, even in parliament itself some hypocrisy was acknowledged. Because ‘if the occasion arises’, the government quoted the KNAW report, Dutch researchers would still be free to do experiments abroad. Observed House member Bas van der Vlies (SGP): ‘Since through a back door [the Netherlands will profit from [ape research elsewhere, I see no reason for us to start beating our chests like gorillas.’”

The point made by Bas van der Vlies is a good one and one especially relevant now as the U.S. weighs legislation to end invasive chimpanzee research.  It is also more broadly relevant because it underscores why the decision of single entity, institution or nation, to end a particular type of research must be viewed within the context of the range of alternative opportunities and avenues that will serve the overall goal.  In other words, the decision to ban an avenue of research means one thing if that choice will result in a true end to the work. The same decision is inherently less risky if it is cushioned by knowledge that another institution or another country is committed to maintaining that research avenue and shouldering the accompanying burdens.

It is also true that the decision to “end” a particular kind of work is often more reflective of different types of cost considerations.  For example, note increasing outsourcing of animal research to other countries with less developed regulatory structure and lower costs. Whether that is good for animal welfare, science, research institutions, and the public is a topic of discussion among scientists and is one that should be given more thoughtful public consideration. We believe the US public is better served by advocating for reasonable improvements in animal welfare while keeping important medical research at home. The adoption of unrealistic policies and regulations that dramatically increase the cost of the work, while not significantly impacting on the well-being of the animals, will help drive the research overseas, with negative consequences on the biomedical leadership of our country and uncertain consequences for the well-being of the animals.  

So how do we tell the difference between individuals, institutions, and countries genuinely committed on moral or ethical grounds to ending particular types of research, rather than in only displacing it to others?  One piece of evidence would be for those claiming that the work is either unnecessary or unethical to also make clear that they do not simply outsource the work to other institutions or countries. 

Another would be for them to decline any benefits from the work.  For example, although we are aware of no efforts underway to preclude citizens of countries that disallowed such work to benefit from the findings or any advances made through chimpanzee biomedical research, for example hepatitis C vaccines currently under development, it would seem that this would be an easy way for people to affirm their commitment to the global picture. (Whether it should be habitat countries or a world-wide body who provides consent on behalf of the wild apes for whom conservationists are arguing should benefit from vaccines developed from research in laboratory studies of nonhuman primates might be a separate issue.)

What is gained from considering this more complicated picture?  In the case of the recent University of Toronto press coverage, a reminder that it is disingenuous at best to solicit public approval by disavowing research that the institution has conducted, has benefited from, and will continue to be involved in — albeit with the majority of risk and cost assumed by other institutions. In the case of chimpanzee research, a reminder that as long as non-U.S. interests benefit from and participate in studies conducted in the U.S., it is not accurate to claim that it is only the U.S.that sanctioned and benefited from such work.  And that includes the apes in Africa who could benefit from the vaccines developed via laboratory research in theU.S. and elsewhere.

Finally, we would advise a critical eye towards any articles in which universities, pharmaceutical companies, or countries claim that they are not engaged in primate or other animal research.  Those who have simply chosen to do the same work elsewhere or via collaboration should be clear about their involvement. Similarly, those whose work depends on data, tissues, or animal models developed by others, or at other institutions, should acknowledge a responsibility and involvement in the live animal work as well. 

Allyson J. Bennett

ALF run amok worldwide

Despite progress in California with the public beginning to take a stand against animal rights extremism the regular reports from the ALF website should remind us that we have a long way to go. Here is a selection of ALF attacks in the last month.

June 15th 2009 – Bomb hoax at a university in the Netherlands – extremists continue to scare scientists into silence, thus monopolizing the public debate on animal research.

ALF bomb warning June 16th 2009

June 2nd 2009 – Activists in Uruguay perform a fake murder of a researcher.


May 21st 2009 – In the UK activists carry out a smear campaign by falsely accusing two Novartis executives. This tactic has been used before in the UK and shows the disgusting lows that animal rights extremists are willing to go in openly lying to make themselves heard.

100 letters have been delivered to residents of Horsham. The letters, printed on headed Sussex Police paper, and signed from PC Sean McDonald, claimed that the following two Novartis vivisectors are paedophiles.

May 20th 2009 – In Germany a pharmaceutical executive had his life put at risk by two incendiary devices – extremists then threatened further action.

This night we placed incendiary devices under 2 expensive cars locked behind the gate of Ulrich Lehner.

We will only give you two warnings Ulrich, the third time that we will pay a visit someone will get hurt.

May 18th 2009 – It may have seemed that the US had escaped these troubles, but unfortunately not. Four incendiary devices caused an estimated $300,000 worth of damage at a laboratory supplier in Nevada. This is a common tactic by animal rights extremists, to attack secondary and tertiary targets in order to cause financial problems to the main target.

May 18th 2009 - incendiary attack by ALF

These sickening tactics serve to scare the scientific community into silence. However researchers cannot let this happen – they must use any opportunity to get across a simple message: Animal Rights extremism damages the medical research that saves millions of lives around the world – we must not give in to this violent minority. This message is short and simple and media-friendly – we must make all researchers advocates for the cause.