Alternatives to Animal Testing: Opportunities and Limitations in the Regulatory Framework  
Date: Wednesday 7th May 2003

For a full report of the day's events, as well as copies of the presentations and photos, please refer to the bottom of this page.

Prof. Hendriksen gave an overview of the current situation in animal testing, including the purposes for which animals are used, the nature of regulatory testing, what alternative testing is and why it is needed, the results of his personal experience of developing alternatives and where the barriers to progress in this area lie.

The concept of the 3R’s (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction) in animal testing is codified in the EU by Council Directive 86/609/EEC and supported by the scientific and regulatory community, however, though there has been a significant downward trend in the use of animals over the last decades, advancements in this area has been relatively limited. In certain areas, progress has been particularly frustrating. A major problem is the time taken to develop and validate alternatives.

Major obstacles are a lack of common scientific tools, funding issues, a relatively low priority assigned to this activity and negative cost-benefit analysis. Greater support is needed to make sure 3Rs development is given higher priority. Directive 86/609 should be fully implemented and greater harmonisation is needed to reduce duplicate testing. There is a need to support more intelligent, more flexible and less bureaucratic testing strategies. Finally it is important to consider all three R’s equally, as replacement is not necessarily possible or advisable in some cases. Prof Hendriksen concluded by stating that “Less animals makes more science. And more science makes better regulations.”

  Speaker: Professor Coenraad F.M. Hendriksen  
  Coenraad F.M. Hendriksen, DVM, PhD, qualified in veterinary science from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and continued his postgraduate training in laboratory animal science. In 1989 he obtained his PhD from Utrecht University.

Hendriksen is animal welfare officer at the Netherlands Vaccine Institute (NVI) in Bilthoven. In addition, he holds a (part-time) chair on Alternatives to Animal Use at Utrecht University and he is head of the Netherlands Centre for Alternatives to Animal Use (NCA). His research activities are focused on the development and validation of methods to replace, reduce and/or refine the use of laboratory animals, especially in the field of the production and quality control of immunobiologicals. He is co-editor of several books and congress proceedings. He has been the Dutch representative of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the European Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) from 1992 until 2002..

  Hosting MEP: Mr. Bob van den Bos  
  Bob van den Bos, MEP, is a member of the Dutch Democraten 66 party and sits with the Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Party in the European Parliament. He is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Security and Defence policy. He was also a member of the Executive of the Dutch European Movement and Ambassador for the Dutch Animal Protection Association. He has published widely on international politics and European cooperation.

"I am pleased to be sponsoring the first of the AllChemE seminars," says Bob van den Bos. "The increased consciousness of the necessity of the three Rs: Refinement, Reduction and Replacement must lead to a new European legislation [on animal testing] through which national laws will be improved. The Commission's White Paper on the Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy and the existing methods for genetic modification make this especially urgent."

  Co-sponsor: ZonMw  
  ZonMw (Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) subsidises a range of projects in the broad area of health, prevention and care. These projects range
from basic research to modernisation of practice, including alternatives to animal experimentation in biomedical science. In this respect, ZonMw attaches great value to the meeting of policy, health and biomedical research and practice. That is because these three are inextricably bound to, and reciprocally influence, each other. ZonMw promotes the combined action and the interaction between practice, research and policy. This is done, for example, by making research knowledge available to policy makers and practice professionals. Or by ensuring that research is geared to policy issues or practical experiences. Or by encouraging the actual introduction of practicable research results into the daily practice of health care. The main customers for ZonMw are the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

More information: ZonMW
Click on thumbnails to view larger photographs.

 The industry sector, the commission, animal rights organisations and scientific institutions attended the seminar

Representatives from industry, the Parliament, the Commission and scientific institutions attended the seminar
  Documents to download  
Full report
Alternatives to Animal Testing: Professor Coenraad F.M. Hendriksen presentation
AllChemE presentation
Link to Cordis news
Link to The Scientist
  Prof. Coenraad Hendriksen  
  Hosting MEP:  
  Bob van den Bos
  ZonMw - Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development  
The AllChemE seminars are an open area for debate. The opinions expressed in the AllChemE seminars do not necessarily reflect the views of AllChemE or its partner organisations.