Animal testing on the rise again

Animal testing rose in Switzerland in 2021 for the first time in five years. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Some 575,000 animals were used in scientific experiments in Switzerland last year, up 3% from 2020 and the first increase in five years, reports the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO).

This content was published on September 20, 2022 - 18:24

Testing involving the highest level of pain for the animals (grade 3) rose by 31%, while grade 2 testing rose 10% and grade 1 by 13%, according to a FSVO press releaseExternal link on Tuesday. Mice were the animals most frequently used.

Approximately 93% of the grade 3 experiments were carried out as part of research on human diseases such as cancer and neurological diseases like dementia and multiple sclerosis. A sharp increase in grade 3 experiments has been observed since 2014, said the FSVO.

In 2021, the federal government launched a research programme to reduce the number of animal experiments in research and to reflect on ethical and societal issues, but animal testing remains at a high level, notes the office. "Experience shows that it may take several years before such measures begin to bear fruit," said the FSVO.

It assumes that some experiments planned for 2020 were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and were only carried out in 2021, which may help explain the increase.

The Swiss League against Animal Testing and for Animal Rights (LSCV) called the latest statistics "a scandal". It noted the pain of the animals, for example due to tumours which are introduced into their bodies.

The committee that launched a popular initiative to ban animal testing and the import of medicines tested on animals, which Swiss voters rejected in February, said it wanted to launch a new initiative that would not include the import ban. In 40 years, the Swiss people have already voted five times on the issue of animal testing.

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