Scientists in Spain employed about 793,000 animals for the first time in 2017, 13% less than the previous year and 43% less than in 2009, according to the annual report prepared by the Government. If the few reuses of specimens in different experiments are included, the number of uses of animals for scientific and teaching purposes peaked at 803,000 in 2017, the lowest figure since records began in 2009.
The document shows 523,000 uses of mice (65% of the total), 86,000 of fish (11%), 82,100 of poultry (10%), 56,000 of rats (7%), 26,000 of rabbits (3.2%) , 8,700 of pigs (1%), 1,476 of dogs (0,18%), 531 of cats (0,07%) and 451 of cynomolgus macaques (0,06%), among others. They are anecdotal figures compared with those of the food industry. Only in December 2017 there was 30 million pigs for food in Spain.
The authors of the report, from the Ministry of Agriculture, warn that when evaluating the new data must take into account research in the field of animal nutrition, which employ thousands of animals, as in the case of chickens fattening, "which significantly increases the figures reflected."
Most of the species used are mice, fish, birds, rats and rabbits
The experimentation of cosmetic products on animals is totally prohibited in the European Union since 2013. At present, 76% of the uses of animals for scientific purposes are focused on the investigation of diseases such as cancer and gastrointestinal, respiratory, nervous and cardiovascular pathologies. Other specimens are used in education and toxicology and safety tests required by the EU to approve drugs or other products.
European regulations obligated since 2014 to also register the level of pain, stress or anguish that each procedure generates in each animal. In 2017, the degree of suffering was considered mild or moderate in 87% of cases and severe in 8%. In the remaining 5% the animals did not regain consciousness after undergoing fully developed experiments under general anesthesia.
"The use of animal models in biomedical research is essential for the development of treatments against diseases and to understand how nature is organized, how we are, what is the basis of behavior and our feelings and sensations," he said. the last report of the Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE) on the use of animals in research. "Advances in treatments for such common and debilitating diseases as diabetes, cancer, AIDS, respiratory or heart diseases and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, to give some examples, would not have been possible without the use of animals for research ", explains the COSCE document.
In 2017 some 610,000 animals were used less than in 2009. Experts attribute this decline to the 3 R calls: replace as much as possible the use of animals by cell cultures or computer simulations, reduce the number of copies to strictly necessary and refine the methods used to maximize animal welfare.