On this 40th World Day for Animals in Laboratories (#WDAIL), several animal protection organisations are raising awareness of animal experimentation and calling for concrete scientific policies that can promote a move towards scientific research that doesn’t use animals.
More than 115 million animals are used per year in scientific procedures worldwide. With current policies, this number is not expected to decrease any time soon. In fact we are expecting it to increase, partially thanks to growing investments in the genetic modification of animals that has resulted from advances in gene editing methods.
More than 13 million animals are used in the EU alone. Many of them go through immense suffering, and many more are killed. In some species, the physiology of the animals after some experiments has been compared to people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Captivity alone can lead to mutilations and psychosomatic injuries.
Despite all the suffering inflicted on these animals, the experiments carried out are often not even useful. Around 90% of animal experiments do not contribute anything to advancing human clinical outcomes, such as finding treatments for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s or stroke. Attempts to improve the design of these animal experiments, enrich laboratory environments, or genetically modify non-human species to better simulate human diseases have been made to improve the success rate, but have consistently failed.
But there are methods that already exist or are being explored that not only don’t use animals, but also have better success rates. Organoids, bio-artificial organs, imaging, and artificial intelligence are just a few examples of techniques and tools that allow us to improve our understanding of molecular, cellular and physiologic mechanisms. With these new approaches, human-relevant data can be used to effectively study clinical, epidemiological, pathological or healthy situations.
As well as these techniques, new visions have been put forward by leading scientists that have changed the way we look at the current scientific paradigm. But they are struggling for opportunities to thrive, mainly because major funders and journals still support the old ways.
Today, several of Eurogroup for Animals’ Member Organisations are raising awareness and calling for concrete scientific policies that can promote innovation and move towards non-animal science.
- Menschen für Tierrechte (DE) is calling on the federal government to finally present a concrete strategy to phase out animal experimentation. Today they launched a petition to ask for citizens’ support; you can sign it here.
- Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V. (DE) is also demanding a concrete strategy to phase out animal experimentation. On this day, they are raising awareness on the continued use of animals to test cosmetic ingredients and the unbelievably slow adoption of animal-free teaching methods.
- Stichting AAP (NL) is raising awareness on the need to extend the EU prohibition on using chimpanzees in research to the rest of the world. They also remind us that ex laboratory animals deserve a pension too! Just like the primates you can see in this video at rescue center AAP, Animal Advocacy and Protection in the Netherlands.
- Dyrenes Beskyttelse (DK) is participating in a conference to debate the ethical, political and scientific issues of animal experimentation including the value of the outputs of this research, the contribution of the 3Rs to the welfare of the animals, and the impact of legislation in reinforcing the feeling of legitimacy.
- The RSPCA (UK) is raising awareness on the increasing use of fish in research. From 12:30-1:30pm on their Facebook page, their science team will be answering your question about animal experimentation and RSPCA’s work in this area. You can participate in and follow the Facebook Q&A session here.
- Animal Defenders International (UK) is launching a Declaration for Advanced Science signed by more than 60 academics, scientists, institutions, companies, organisations and celebrities (check the full list of Declaration signatories here). They urge governments and regulators to drive research towards modern methods that benefit people.
- Essere Animali (IT) released today the first-ever images from a primate research unit showing animals being subjected to neuroanatomic and neuropsychologic experiments in one of the most important universities in Italy. They aim to create a public debate to discuss what can be done to move towards a future without animals in laboratories.
- LAV (IT) will celebrate on Friday the anniversary of the first entry of animal protectors into the Green Hill breeding center for beagles, which resulted in its closure, the legal persecution of its staff, and the successful adoption of the beagles that were being kept there.
- GAIA (BE) is calling attention to the rise in the number of animals used in Flemish laboratories.
Eurogroup for Animals is in full support of these endeavours by our members, which show the importance of this day to remind all of the level of suffering that animals in laboratories still endure, and what can be done to end this suffering sooner than later.
Luisa Bastos, Animals in Science Programme Leader