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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Comment: Developments in the Collection of Statistical Information on the Number of Animals used in Experiments and other Scientific Purposes in the European Union

Ursula G. Sauer and Roman Kolar

In 1999, the European Commission presented its second report on the numbers of laboratory animals used in the European Union (EU). The plausibility of the data and the usefulness of the format of the registration tables remain questionable, for reasons previously discussed in connection with the Commission’s first statistical report. In addition, it is impossible to derive sound information on trends in animal use in the EU and its Member States from the second statistical report. The European Commission and the Member States have agreed on new tables to be used for future statistics on the use of experimental animals in the EU. These new tables have been significantly extended and improved. Several categories of little relevance have been revised, and ambiguous expressions have been clarified. However, several problems either persist or have been newly created. Moreover, some important data (i.e. categories for pain and distress, as well as for several specific purposes of use; the origin of some animal species; types of institutions; and the use of genetically engineered animals) are still not required. Nevertheless, these are highly relevant to animal welfare and must be regarded as indispensable for a well-aimed application of the statistics to set priorities concerning the Three Rs.