Animal research in Germany
The statistics published by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, (BMEL) indicate that 2.902.384 animals were used for research purposes in Germany in 2019. The new statistics include animals used in research procedures as well as for alternative methods, e.g. for obtaining cells for cell cultures. 35 percent of the animals were used in basic research. 16 per cent of the animals were used for legally required safety tests of chemicals or new drugs, for example against common diseases such as diabetes, cancer, dementia, cardiovascular diseases, infections and immune diseases.
The proportion of mice and rats accounts for about 78 percent for all animals used in research. 14 percent were fish, 3 percent were rabbits, and 0.1 percent primates. Across all species, the number of procedures with genetically modified animals accounts for 44 percent.
Statistics at the Max Planck Institutes
In 2019, a total of 275,887 animals were used for research purposes at Max Planck Institutes. Compared to 2018, the number of animals used in experiments has thus remained roughly the same (275,525 experimental animals). The impact of the Corona pandemic on the numbers of experimental animals used in 2020 will become apparent at the end of the year, when the reported numbers from the previous year have been recorded and fully evaluated.
Rodents accounted for the biggest proportion at 80 percent (mice and rats), followed by fish (17 percent). Other animal groups, such as birds (2 percent), were used to a much lesser extent at the Max Planck Institutes.
The Max Planck Society uses significantly more fish in its research activities than the federal average, thus meeting a provision of the German Animal Welfare Act according to which the lowest possible vertebrate species should be deployed if it will suffice for the research purpose. The high proportion of fish is also explained by their importance in basic research. The zebra fish, in particular, is an extremely important model organism in molecular and developmental biology and in neuroscience.
Non-human primates account for a negligible proportion of 0.003 percent of all research animals used at the Max Planck Institutes.
Severity of procedures
In 2019, the majority of procedures carried out were categorized as being mild (51 percent); the proportion of moderate procedures was 20 percent. Only 0.2 percent of procedures were categorized as being severe. The proportion of procedures carried out under general anaesthesia, from which the animals did not recover, and from animals used for organ and tissue removal after killing was 29 percent in total. Experimental animals which have been killed painlessly in research only for the collection of biological samples (e.g. from cells, tissues and organs) have not been used in animal experiments or other studies. The proportion of genetically modified animals in the Max Planck Society in 2019 was 68 per cent.