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Questions and answers on animal experiments, alternative methods and animal experiment numbers

Updated BfR FAQ of 16 December 2021

Animal experiments are carried out to answer scientific questions, but not every scientific question justifies an animal experiment. The Animal Welfare Act specifies the purposes for which animal experiments may be carried out, the organisational and technical requirements that must be met, and the requirements for the qualifications of the personnel.

The permissible purposes of an animal experiment include, in particular, basic research, the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in humans and animals, and the safety testing of medicines and chemicals. However, the Animal Welfare Act stipulates that animal experiments may only be carried out if they are essential to answer the scientific question and appear ethically justifiable in the balance of interests between the expected gain in knowledge and the expected suffering of the animals.

Wherever reliable alternative methods exist, these must be used instead of animal experiments. The German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R) at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) promotes the development, validation and use of such alternative methods to animal experiments. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) previously recorded the annual number of animals used in experimental projects in Germany and published these figures on its website. Since 2015, the BMEL also transmitted these figures to the European Commission. With the amended Experimental Animal Reporting Ordinance of 11.8.2021, this legal task was transferred to the BfR. Accompanying this, the BfR will publish the figures from 2020 onwards on its website.

The BfR has compiled selected questions and answers on animal experiments, alternative methods and the annual reporting of laboratory animal numbers.



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Updated BfR FAQ
Questions and answers on animal experiments, alternative methods and animal experiment numbers 128.2 KB




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