Figures on animal testing
A total of 81.468 animal experiments were carried out at WUR in 2021, an increase of 33% compared with 2022. This more than offset last year's sharp drop. These are experiments that fall under the Wod and that were completed in 2021.
Annual fluctuations in the number of animal experiments were mainly seen for pigs, chickens and fish and, to a lesser extent, mice. This is due to large, long-term research projects that took place into the health and welfare of pigs and poultry, into more sustainable fish farming, and into the role of mice in the transmission of Lyme and other diseases.
Wageningen graduates may be required to conduct animal experiments as part of their work. WUR therefore believes it has a duty to teach students about responsible animal testing and the ethical aspects associated with the use of test animals.
Any students who are opposed to animal experiments on ethical grounds or who do not wish to use materials taken from animals during practical sessions may choose to follow a dissection-free variant of the compulsory classes. This is not however possible for subjects in the specialisation phase of the programme, although students may choose subjects in which they do not have to carry out animal experiments
Which animals fall under the Wod?
The ‘rehoming’ of test animals is permitted under certain conditions. WUR follows the Code of Practice drawn up by the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes for the rehoming of test animals.
Cats that are kept at WUR are ‘retired’ after seven years and put up for adoption. Using a detailed questionnaire, the right cat is coupled to the right owner. The cats that are housed at WUR are mainly used for behaviour and food research. They receive a lot of attention from students and carers and are therefore well-socialised and suitable for adoption.
Wageningen Research (WR)
Most of the animal experiments carried out at Wageningen Research (WR) in 2021 were used in research into the protection of animal species (76%), primarily the monitoring of fish stocks. This was followed by applied and translational research (20%), primarily into animal welfare and animal health. After this came statutory testing (3%), mainly batch potency testing (testing the potency of batch-produced medicines) and bioaccumulation (accumulation of (hazardous) substances in an organism).
Wageningen University (WU)
Most of the animal experiments carried out at Wageningen University (WU) in 2021 were for applied and translational research (69%), in particular research into animal welfare. This was followed by fundamental research (27%), in particular into the immune system, then educational purposes (3%).
Almost three quarters of all animal experiments carried out at WUR are on fish (72.5%). These experiments are mostly for statutory fish stock monitoring, within the research theme ‘protection of animal species’. This is followed by chickens (domestic fowl 13.8%) and mice (3.8%). Chickens and cattle are mostly used for research into animal welfare. Not all of the animals in this overview are housed in WUR facilities. Research for the conservation or monitoring of wild populations can only be carried out using animals in the wild. Some animal experiments are also carried out on experimental farms, for example on chickens.
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Level of suffering at WUR
The tables show the level of suffering experienced by test animals at WUR in 2021. The expected level of suffering is assessed as part of the project plan, and again when the project has been completed. The table shows the actual levels of suffering. Various factors are taken into account to determine this, such as the pain and fear that a particular procedure causes, or lasting harm to the animal. Animal suffering is assessed cumulatively. For example, different processes may be carried out within a procedure that each cause ‘light suffering’. However, the total amount of suffering during the entire procedure may be categorised as ‘moderate suffering’.
Terminal assessed animal experiments
Relatively more experiments that cause moderate suffer-
ing are carried out at WR. One reason for this difference is
the nature of the experiments that are carried out at WR.
These include experiments for research into animal
disease, which in some cases require animals to be
infected with the disease in order to study it.
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