In 2017, 530,568 animal tests were performed in the Netherlands. This was 80,694 more than the previous year, calculated the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Testing was carried out at universities, university hospitals, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies.

A laboratory animal can be used in several studies, so the actual number of animals may be lower than the number of tests carried out, according to the NVWA annual report. In 2017, over ten thousand animals were used for more than one study.

Mice and rats

The tests mainly involved mice (43 percent) and rats (19 percent). The biggest increase was observed among genetically modified mice and zebra fish, which scientists used for cancer research. Nearly 90 percent of all the animals died during the test or were killed afterwards.

Universities and academic hospitals used nearly 173,000 laboratory animals. Of these, 46,678 were used by Leiden University, followed by Erasmus Medical Centre and Leiden University Medical Centre, each with over 20,000 animals.

Most of the animal testing in the Netherlands is conducted for fundamental scientific research (42 percent). Over a quarter of the tests are performed for application-based research and another quarter for legally required safety tests.

Failure rate

In her response, the Minister of Agriculture writes that she wants to move as quickly as possible to research without animal testing. Information about the failure rate of animal testing must be published to avoid unnecessary repetition. Schouten: “Nevertheless, animal testing will continue to be necessary in the coming years until sufficient alternatives have been developed and permitted. But I would like to emphasise that I strongly advocate careful treatment of these animals.”