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Animals used for scientific purposes

Transparency on the use of animals for scientific purposes in the EU

The use of animals for scientific purposes is a matter of great public concern. Directive 2010/63/EU sets an ultimate goal to replace all animals that are used for scientific purposes by alternative methods. Meanwhile, the number of animals used for scientific purposes must be reduced to the minimum scientifically needed level. The Commission is committed to improving transparency in the use of animals for scientific purposes, in line with one of the three key objectives of the Directive. Detailed and reliable statistics serve as a firm basis for constructive discussions on how to achieve reduction and to focus research efforts for the development of alternatives in areas with the highest impact. They also assist in analysing the effects of the introduction of new alternative methods, as well as indicating trends in the acquisition and use of animals.

The revised statistics provide information on each use of an animal. They show data on numbers of animals needed, detailed information of all uses of animals, including the purpose, the genetic status of the animal, and the actual severity as a result of the scientific procedure. In addition, the revised statistics also provide the numbers of animals used for the creation and maintenance of genetically altered animal lines, which are needed to support EU research and testing needs.

In addition to statistical data, non-technical project summaries of authorised projects provide information in layman’s terms on where, why and how animals are still being used. It provides context beyond numbers for a better understanding of different scientific use areas and why animals cannot yet be fully replaced in these areas. Non-technical project summaries will also serve to detect how the three Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) are applied in current scientific work.