Animals & science

Animals are being studied in various research disciplines, for example: behavioral science, biology and ecology. Goals might vary, such as gaining insight into the relationships between animals and their environment. Or to investigate unique traits of animals in order to develop new technologies for humans. Some animals also play a role in science by undergoing tests. Researchers expose the animals to interventions in order to obtain information, for example about biological processes. Moreover, there are experiments mandated by (European) regulations, such as testing the effects of chemicals or new medications for diseases in humans and/or other animals.

Conducting experiments on animals in the Netherlands requires a license and following a particular procedure. Therein a proposal will be evaluated among criteria, based on the 3Rs policy: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement. With the aim to reduce the use of animals in research and education. The first R, Replacement, prescribes a replacement to the use of animal-free alternatives. But what method qualifies as an alternative? Various ethical considerations are being discussed related to this question in the article of CenSAS researcher Koen Kramer: "When is something an alternative? A general account applied to animal-free alternatives to animal research.

Animal-free testing methods 

There is an increased focus in society to utilize and seek alternatives to animal experiments. However, implementing animal-free testing methods in research, has proven to be challenging. PhD candidate Sophie van Wijk is involved in the AFARA project: Animal-Free Assays for Endocrine Disruption – from Science to Regulatory Acceptance. Here she explores the integration of animal-free methods in the safety assessment of chemicals.