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Brussels and Flanders join forces to reduce animal testing

Illustration picture shows a protest of anti animal testing group CAV / ADC in Leuven. (BELGA PHOTO YORICK JANSENS)
05:49 17/01/2022

Brussels minister for animal welfare Bernard Cleryfayt and his Flemish counterpart Ben Weyts are joining forces in the fight against animal testing, with an optimised version of the RE-Place platform, a database where all existing knowledge about alternative methods for animal testing is recorded and stored.

In Belgium, approximately half a million laboratory animals are used annually for various scientific purposes. They are most often used in biomedical research into new therapies for diseases such as cancer. In addition, the use of laboratory animals is sometimes required by law, for example for the safety of medicines and vaccines.

In order to reduce the number of animal experiments, the Brussels and Flemish regions set up RE-Place a few years ago to improve access to reliable information on the use of new alternative methods. The platform has now been renewed. With this, the regions want to promote the use of animal-free methods by focusing on knowledge sharing, and by bringing experts from different institutions and research domains into contact with each other.

"I want to prevent the suffering of laboratory animals as much as possible," said Clerfayt. "This can be done by developing, stimulating and supporting alternative methods. If we know exactly how many animals are used for scientific research today, it seems essential to me to reduce this number."

Weyts also wants to greatly reduce the number of animal experiments. "There are more and more alternatives to animal testing and Flanders can also play a pioneering role in this area,” he said. “Although some animal experiments still remain a necessary evil. The focus in our policy is on a thorough application of the '3R policy': reduction, refinement, replacement."

Written by Nick Amies