Animal research

German DFG warns of end to animal research

German politicians will hurt research if they set a deadline to end the use of animals in experiments, according to the country’s top funder.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) said there was “no framework for a short-term or fixed-term exit” from animal research “that does not endanger science and human power. ‘Innovation from Germany’.

A DFG commission made up of staff from teaching hospitals, research institutes and universities said the drive to set a deadline for replacing animals was based on “fundamental errors of judgement” about how research works and the importance of having a range of methods.

The group contradicted the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, a public body that is among organizations that have linked the recent decline in animal testing to better welfare. The German Center for the Care of Laboratory Animals, which is part of the institute, reported last year that the number of laboratory animals used in Germany had decreased by around 14% in 2020 compared to the previous year. last year.

“Reducing the number of laboratory animals is seen as improving animal welfare and vice versa. From the point of view of the scientific community, this point of view is insufficient and incorrect. Numbers alone say nothing about the quality of animal protection and welfare in the research projects carried out,” the DFG Group said in its report.

“In biomedical research, animal experiments are always of great importance,” said Brigitte Vollmar, professor of experimental surgery at the University of Rostock and chair of the DFG commission.

She said in a statement that the group had sought to influence the “ongoing public and policy discussion” about animal testing “from a scientific perspective”. The funder said it pushes back on the emphasis on replacement over refinement and reduced animal use.

Public opinion polls have shown widespread opposition to the use of animals in research in Germany.

The issue came to public attention in 2014, when researcher Nikos Logothetis, then at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, was accused of animal welfare violations, an allegation that was later dismissed by the courts. .

In neighboring Switzerland, a February referendum banning animal testing was rejected by 79% of voters, although supporters said they would try again before the end of the year.

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