Wednesday, 01 June 2022 12:01

Commentary: the Netherlands introduces professorship for transition to animal-free procedures Featured

As of June 1, 2022, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University has established a professorship for the "evidence-based transition to animal-free innovations." The task of the veterinarian Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga is to accelerate the acceptance of animal-free procedures. The scientist, who used to conduct animal experiments herself, is now clearly committed to the goal of research without animal experiments. She wants to achieve this by improving cooperation between science, industry and regulatory authorities.

Photo: Paschalis, Pixabay.

Thus, the new chair addresses a sticking point: the (much) too long approval procedures for animal-free methods and their mandatory use after approval. This is precisely the bottleneck that delays - and in some cases - even prevents the practical use of the new methods.

Changes in the approach to research projects are also an important approach. It is important, says Ritskes-Hoitinga, to formulate before starting exactly what scientific question the researcher has and how this can be investigated without animal testing. It is also necessary to conduct comprehensive research into what findings are already available and who has already conducted research on this topic. In addition, the announcement of the chairholder that in the future she will work more transdisciplinary and also cooperate with non-governmental organizations is to be welcomed.

For years, the Netherlands has been the EU's model boy when it concerns non-animal research. As the first EU member state, the National Committee of the Netherlands (NCad) presented a phase-out plan in 2016. With its program for the transition to non-animal methods, the SYRCLE center of excellence and the establishment of the new professorship, Utrecht University shows what is needed to achieve the phase-out of animal experiments. The Netherlands is thus showing the rest of the EU the way to an animal-free future. It is imperative that Germany follows this good example.

Christina Ledermann