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The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) has today expressed its profound disappointment at the lack of a significant decrease in the number of animals used in experiments across the European Union. This follows the publication of the Sixth Statistical Report by the European Commission which covers data collected by 27 Member States for the year, 2008.
The statistics, the first publicly available since 2005, have been released only weeks after the EU adopted new legislation on animal experimentation (replacing the earlier Directive 86/609/EEC). This new legislation has been criticised by the ECEAE as being a missed opportunity to introduce measures that would have given greater protection to animals used in experiments.
The latest statistics show:
- Total number of animals used in 2008 was just above 12 million which is a small decrease from 2005 (reported as 12.1 million).
- Main user countries continues to be France, UK and Germany, constituting approximately 55% of the total number of animals used throughout the EU. Germany use increased by 11% (to 2,021,782), UK by 21% (to 2,266,884) and France by 0.13% to (2,328,380).
- Significant increases in the number of animals used in certain countries, including Spain (increase of 51% to 897,859), Estonia (increase of 610% to 34,794), Ireland (increase of 197% to 112,835), Austria (increase of 32% to 220,456) and Portugal (increase of 22% to 50,888).
- Figures for certain species include: over 21,000 dogs (a decrease of 12%), over 330,000 rabbits (an increase of 7%) over 9,500,000 rodents (includes 11% increase in mice), over 4,000 cats (an increase of 5%), over 92,000 pigs (an increase of 40%) and over 9,000 nonhuman primates (including a decrease of 8% in new and world old primates but an increase of 86% in Prosimians). 56% of old world primates are still imported from non-EU countries and include wild-caught animals and their offspring.
- The use of animals includes an increase in the use of animals for fundamental biological research of 13% to 4,575,054 animals, an increase of 13% to 478,511 in the use of animals for the production and quality control of products and devices for veterinary medicine. There was also a sharp increase in the use of animals for food additives from 34,225 to54,164 and 319,117 animals were poisoned to death in studies like the Lethal Dose 50, which included 354 dogs.
ECEAE Chief Executive, Michelle Thew states: “The ECEAE is extremely disappointed by the lack of a significant drop in the number of animals used in experiments across the EU. Despite the opportunity to improve the lot of animals in laboratories, the recently adopted legislation does not include any mechanism to systematically reduce and ultimately replace the use of animals in research. The future looks bleak for the millions of animals who will continue to suffer and die each year in EU laboratories. Tragically we do not believe the situation will improve during the next five years. This is Europe’s shame.”