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IN DEPTH … using just under one million animals a year7—excluding the most prevalent research species: mice, rats, birds, and fish. In Europe, rodents account for 80% of the total number of vertebrates used in laboratories (see chart for breakdown ). Invertebrates are not subject to statistics, although they are common in research—the best known being the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and C. elegans nematode— and are generally unprotected by the law, with some notable exceptions. “However high these numbers may seem, they are very small compared with the animals destined for human consumption as food,” explains Ivan Balansard, a veterinarian from the animal welfare office of the CNRS. A recent study shows that in Europe, for every single research animal, 200-300 are slaughtered for human consumption. For each non-human primate in research, 500,000 animals are bred for food.8 How exactly are these animals used? The vast majority of procedures apply to biomedical research, which includes anything from basic research to the development of drugs, behavioral studies, xenotransplantation, testing and safety (see chart for breakdown). “French legislation, for example, requires that a drug candidate be tested on a rodent and non-rodent model before it can make it to phase I human clinical trials,” says Balansard, who notes that a lot of the research also helps develop treatments for animal pathologies. “And of course, there is strict control over all these procedures,” he points out. A new Directive European legislation on animal testing is embodied by Directive 2010/63/EU, which ensures that the 3Rs principle (see box p.21) is applied at every stage of the research process. Each application to carry out animal research now involves a cost/benefit assessment that sets the scientific benefit against the potential harm done to animals. A particular species can only be used when no “lower” animal model is suitable for a specific research, and invasive procedures on great apes such as chimpanzees are prohibited. New standards on caging and housing have also been established. “Changes are significant and the new regulations put considerable strain on biomedical research. But since they improve animal welfare, the research community has been keen to accept them,” says Balansard. “This is what makes the ECI’s stance regarding this legislation so surprising—we are approaching a level of animal welfare that is unparalleled in the world, and in any other field.” Applications and beyond The Directive, which came into force on January 1, 2013, has Percentages of animals used by classes in EU member states Mice 60.96% Other mammals 0.07% Carnivores 0.25 % Purposes of experiments already been adopted in most EU countries. France, which passed the first legislation on animal testing in 1987, has fully complied with it. Today, every project is first evaluated by an ethics committee—which includes veterinarians, researchers, technicians and members of the public—before being granted final authorization by the Ministry of Research. In Germany, “EU legislation brought few large-scale changes, given the high level of regulation in place before the introduction of the new Directive,” explains Stefan Treue, a cognitive neuroscientist who operates the country’s largest primate center in Göttingen.9 Regional government offices still have the last say in approving or denying a research project—which leaves room for local interpretation. One change is that each research institution must now have its own Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)—a board that checks applications before they are sent to the local authorities for approval. “Legislatively, it’s a rather calm situation.” As for the UK, “there are a few instances where the Directive is slightly different from our pre-existing national regulations—for example, as regards cage sizes,” says Lemon. The UK has also decided to keep a personal license system in place for anyone who does animal testing, which Rats 13.96% 7. Source: USDA, Annual Report Animal Usage, 2011. 8. R. Roelfsema and S. Treue, “Basic Neuroscience Research with Nonhuman Primates: A Small but Indispensable Component of Biomedical Research,” Neuron, 2014. 82(6): 1200-04. 9. Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL) at the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Göttingen (Germany). 10. Peter Singer is best known for his seminal book, Animal Liberation: a New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals (New York: New York Review, 1975). 11. W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (London: Methuen, 1959). Biological studies of a fundamental nature 46.1% Research and develop human +veterin+dentist 18.8% Production and quality control of products for human medicine and dentistry 10.97% Production and quality control of products for veterinary medicine 2.94% Toxicological and other safety evaluation 8.75% Diagnosis of disease 1.61% Education and training 1.56% Other 9.27% Guinea-pigs 1.49% Other rodents 0.47% Rabbits 3.12% Cold-blooded animals 12.47% Birds 5.88% Artio+Perissodactyla 1.28% Prosimians+monkeys +apes 0.05% Source: Seventh Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the Statistics on the number of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes in the member states of the European Union. 20 CNRS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE © C. HEIN FOR CNRS MAGAZINE


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