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Laboratory animals that are not laboratory animals

30/2023, 11.12.2023

Bred for scientific purposes, but not used: BfR Stakeholder Forum discusses “surplus animals”

Laboratory animals are bred for scientific purposes. However, not all of them are used. Recently, these ”surplus” laboratory animals have been statistically reported separately each year. An event organised by the German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R) at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is now looking at the fate of these animals. “Unused laboratory animals – ‘surplus’ or necessity?” is the title of the BfR Stakeholder Forum on 15 December 2023 at the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Haus in Berlin. “Together, we want to take stock of this topic,” says Bf3R Director Professor Dr Gilbert Schönfelder. “It will also be about how to deal with unused animals and what can be done to minimise their numbers.”

Link to the event:

According to the recently published laboratory animal statistics for 2022, the number of animals bred for scientific purposes that were then not used and killed in that year was 1.77 million. For 2021, 2.5 million such animals were still reported. Around 85 per cent were mice and 11 per cent zebrafish. The majority of them come from the breeding of genetically modified animals. The unused animals often do not have the desired genetic modification and therefore cannot be used in corresponding experiments.

The BfR forum will shed light on the topic of “non-utilised laboratory animals” from a scientific and ethical perspective. This will be followed by a panel discussion in which representatives of animal welfare organisations will also take part.

Questions and answers on the topic:

BfR press release on animal experiment statistics:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the German States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

About the Bf3R

The German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R) was founded in 2015 and is an integral part of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). It coordinates nationwide activities with the aim of limiting animal experiments to the absolute minimum and ensuring the best possible protection for laboratory animals. It also aims to stimulate research activities worldwide and promote scientific dialogue.


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