For the first time an EU Member State has presented a strategy on the phasing out of animal experiments. In a time where non-animal alternative approaches are gaining momentum, Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the ground breaking advisory report ‘Transition to non-animal research on opportunities for the phasing out of animal procedures’ launched today by the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (NCAD).
Key to the advisory report is the case made for strong government leadership to enable a complete paradigm shift to animal free science. The report demonstrates NCAD’s conviction that investing in future technologies and alternative methods offer the outstanding opportunity to make progress towards a more effective humane medicine and research.
According to NCAD’s report, regulatory testing should and can be phased out by 2025 without hindering human safety. The NCAD is convinced that an international review of current risk assessment standards is key to achieve this objective. Moreover the advisory report points out that for biological studies of a fundamental nature, a crucial field accounting for the bulk of animals used, the feasibility to phase out animal experiments varies per domain and therefore requires dedicated strategies to make progress in the coming 10 years. Furthermore, it acknowledges that animals used in education and training should be reduced significantly.
“Legally required animal studies for the assessment of chemical substances, food additives, plant protection products, and human and veterinary medicines, can be phased out by 2025 as, by that time, safety and risk assessment will be based on innovative non-animal technologies, Big Data analyses and advanced in vitro models” commented Herman Koeter, Chairman of the NCAD.
“This is a revolutionary step for animals used in research and testing’ states Kirsty Reid, Programme Leader for Animals in Science at Eurogroup for Animals, ‘it’s high time to shift the golden standard of animal use to animal free research. Implementing the 3Rs and applying alternatives is not sufficient if not supported by re-defining current research standards. This is why Eurogroup for Animals supports the introduction of a fourth R: redundancy “.
What’s missing in the report is a recommendation on a stricter scrutiny of project submissions framing the use of animals and a more balanced composition of assessment bodies. Shifting paradigms also means reflecting on the real need and ethical justification to use animals for certain research purposes. Eurogroup for Animals calls on the NCAD to further explore this avenue in follow up advisory reports.
Eurogroup for Animals calls on Dutch Minister van Dam to commit to a robust implementation plan and urges the European Commission to adopt a similar strategy at EU level.