In a time where non-animal alternative approaches are gaining momentum, the Netherlands, as the first EU Member State presented a strategy to phasing out of animal experiments entitled ‘Transition to non-animal research on opportunities for the phasing out of animal procedures’.
The report was launched on 15 December 2016 by the Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (NCAD).
Becoming the World leader in innovations without laboratory animals by 2025 is the aim of the Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Martijn van Dam who commissioned the NCad to draw up a schedule for the phasing out of animal procedures.
The report makes a case for strong government leadership to enable a complete paradigm shift to animal free science. It demonstrates NCAD’s conviction that investing in future technologies and alternative methods offers the opportunity to make progress towards a more effective humane medicine and research.
According to the report, regulatory testing should and can be phased out by 2025. The NCAD also believes that an international review of current risk assessment standards is key to achieve this objective. 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, the report acknowledges that animals used in education and training should be reduced significantly.
However, the report is lacking a recommendation on a stricter scrutiny of project submissions framing the use of animals as well as 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. Overall, this report can however be seen as an important step in the direction of phasing out animal experiments and it would be a great progress if the European Commission would adopt a similar strategy at EU level.
The full report can be found here.