Questions and Answers on Animal Experiments and Alternative Methods

FAQ of the BfR dated 28 January 2016

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

The main purposes for which animal experiments are permitted are basic research, the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses in humans and animals, and tests on the safety of medicinal products and chemicals. However, the German Animal Welfare Act stipulates that animal experiments may only be conducted if they are essential to answer the scientific question and are ethically acceptable in view of the balance between the expected knowledge to be gained and the expected suffering of the animals.

Whenever there are reliable alternative methods, these must be used in place of animal experiments. The German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R) at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) promotes the development, validation and use of such alternatives to animal experiments.

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