Proefdieren en Dierproeven
Animals in Science

Animals in science: Position of the Royal Dutch Zoological Society.

A large body of our biological and medical knowledge on vital processes has been obtained from experiments and observations on animals and animal preparations. To advance fundamental scientific theories, to further develop new and novel medical treatments, and to test food and material safeties, research on animals will remain necessary.

Animals have an intrinsic value. This implies that animals, including animals used in scientific procedures, must be treated respectfully. When deciding on performing research on animals, the animal's wellbeing should be an explicit consideration.

In The Netherlands, research animals are the group of animals that is best protected by legislation. The Dutch equivalent of the United Kingdom's Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act, i.e. the 1977 "Wet op de dierproeven (Wod)", is not only the strictest of animal welfare legislation in The Netherlands, but also in comparison with appropriate legislation in other countries of the European Community. Significant improvements in animal welfare will not be obtained by changes in the Wod, but by further developing other legislation aimed at the protection of animals. Harmonization of European legislation is warranted, and the Dutch Wod can be a leading example.

Reseach on animals is societally controversial. It is therefore imperative that those who are involved in research on animals or otherwise involved with research animals do so respectfully, carefully and legally. By the same token, those who oppose animal research should be equally respectful and careful to legally express their concerns and objections.

The Society supports the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement. Where possible, validated models should replace animal experimentation. However, we should be cautious and acknowledge that the complex interactions between biological systems within an organism cannot be always reproduced in an alternative system. In those scientific disciplines in which the animal proper is the object of investigation, alternative models of course cannot be used. However, reduction and refinement should still be pursued.