Number of animal tests in Flanders fell in 2019...

Number of animal tests in Flanders fell in 2019...

05 February 2021

Increase in number of painful tests unacceptable for GAIA

In 2019 (253,433) there were fewer animal tests in Flanders as compared with 2018 (262,479). This is shown in figures from the Department of the Environment of the Flemish government. “Good news for the animals, but unfortunately we can't say this fall in figures is the result of political policy”, says GAIA chairman Michel Vandenbosch. “In Flanders it’s true to say that there’s no trace of a well thought-out and efficient policy strategy that results in a reduction in the number of animal tests.” And it is alarming that the number of tests that cause serious pain has risen slightly: 37,604 tests with serious pain in 2019 as compared with 37,271 tests with serious pain in 2018. For GAIA the systematic reduction of painful animal testing is a priority. Unfortunately, according to the latest available European statistics (2015-2107), Belgium ranks in fifth place on the list of member states with the most painful animal tests.

The most recent figures on animal tests in Flanders show that the number of animal tests has fallen slightly (-3% in 2019 as compared with 2018), but for GAIA this is no cause for celebration. “Any fall in a specific year is more to do with the end of some project or another and isn’t due to an effective policy vision and strategy. This is in no way a structural, sustainable reduction.” Animals that do not ‘benefit’ from the falling number of animal tests include cats (an increase of 619%: 206 animals in 2019, 19 animals in 2018[1]), rhesus monkeys (increase in number of animals from 5 to 7), cattle (1,182 experiments in 2019, 503 in 2018), Golden Syrian hamsters (396 experiments in 2019, 195 in 2018) and sheep (498 experiments in 2019, 427 in 2018).

Painful tests increase In 2018 in Flanders 37,271 tests were carried out that cause serious pain to the animals. In 2019 the figure was 37,604 (333 more than the previous year), which means that 14.8% of all tests carried out in 2019 cause serious pain to the animals. “For us the priority is the phasing out of these painful tests”, says Vandenbosch. “In addition, the focus should also be on sentient animals which includes in the first place dogs, cats and primates.”

Alternatives not the solution
Simply using alternatives, to which a great deal of lip service is paid, is not the solution, emphasises Michel Vandenbosch. “The government could impose animal test quota or propose that the number of animal tests must be reduced by 10% each year. Then it’s up to the researchers, together with independent parties, in all transparency and in consultation with other stakeholders such as GAIA, to determine how this target is to be achieved, which research projects are really worth the effort and should be given priority, and which are less important or urgent. The government could also impose a levy based on the number of test animals that are kept and used, and this money could be invested in research into alternative methods.”

[1] 91.5% of the tests on cats are “tests” on animals with owners that are being treated as a patient at a university animal clinic, a practice against which GAIA has no ethical objections.

The figures for 2019 can be found here:

L'expérimentation animale sur les chiens et les chats est inacceptable

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