In total, nearly 56,000 animals were used for experimental purposes in the Brussels Region last year. This is almost 6,000 animals less than in 2019, or 9.5%. In five years, the drop is even 36%. This is how the Brussels Minister for Animal Welfare Bernard Clerfayt (DéFI) reports.
In 2020, the number of animals used in experiments continued to decline, especially in basic research, as 55,688 animals were used. This is 9.5% less than in 2019.
“I am of course delighted that the number of laboratory animals has declined in recent years, but we need to treat these numbers with caution. After all, in 2020 some scientific studies may have been postponed and some experiments could not be carried out due to the COVID crisis, “said Clerfayt putting the positive figures into perspective.
The decline is part of a larger trend that has seen since 2015 a reduction of about 36% in the number of animals used for experimental purposes.
In 2020, 97% of laboratory animals were rodents, of which 91% were mice. Chickens (1 percent) and zebrafish (0.6 percent) were also used. As in 2019, no dogs, cats, horses, donkeys or primates were used for the research.
More than half (69.81 percent) of experimental animal procedures in 2020 were performed for basic research such as studies on cancer (34.10 percent) and immune system (21.82 percent).
Animal testing is strictly regulated: researchers must use alternative methods if they exist. If alternative methods are not yet available, the animals used for the experiments benefit from legal protection and all previously approved institutions are subject to controls.
At the same time, the Brussels Region is investing heavily to help limit and reduce the number of laboratory animals. “Science has evolved and provided alternatives that do not involve laboratory animals, such as those based on human cells that produce results more relevant to humans. It is therefore fundamental that not only these types of methods can be developed, but also their inventory and general awareness. As a result, I am supporting a VUB project for an amount of 250,000 euros which promotes the massive distribution of these alternatives via the platform. IC-3R have in mind, ”concludes Bernard Clerfayt.
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