Responsibility in animal experiments
Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht do mainly bio-medical and veterinary research. The aims of this research include increasing safety and improving the quality of life for both people and animals, primarily by preventing or curing illnesses. Many experiments can be done using cultured cells, computer simulations or volunteers. In some cases it is necessary to conduct experiments on animals.
Under Dutch law, experiments may only be done on animals if no other way is possible. If it is necessary to use animals, as few of them must be used as possible, and they must undergo minimal discomfort. Like humans, animals (in particular vertebrates) experience welfare, and thus they are aware when their welfare is affected. In addition, animals have intrinsic value as individuals, which means that we must respect their physical integrity and their right to life. Researchers aiming to design an experiment using animals must always check if any ‘3R’ methods (replacement, reduction, refining) can be applied in the experiment, and must describe these methods when applying for a licence.