Animal research in Germany

Animal research in Germany

The statistics published by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, (BMEL) indicate that 2.825.066 animals were used for research purposes in Germany in 2018. The new statistics include animals used in research procedures as well as for alternative methods, e.g. for obtaining cells for cell cultures

32 percent of the animals were used in basic research. The proportion of mice and rats accounts for about 85 percent for all animals used in research. 8 percent were fish, 3 percent were rabbits, and 0.12 percent primates. Across all species, the number of procedures with genetically modified animals accounts for 45 percent.


Statistics at the Max Planck Institutes

In 2018, a total of 275,525 animals were used for research purposes at Max Planck Institutes. This corresponds to a decline of 23 percent compared with 2017. Rodents accounted for the biggest proportion at 82 percent (mice and rats), followed by fish (16 percent). Other animal groups, such as birds (1 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 0.001 percent of all research animals used at the Max Planck Institutes.  

Severity of procedures

In 2018, the majority of procedures carried out were categorized as being mild (53 percent); the proportion of moderate procedures was 16 percent. Only 0.5 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 30 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.

Modellorganismus Fruchtfliege
The common kitchen pest Drosophila melanogaster is indispensable as a model organism in the lab.
Modellorganismus Zebrafisch
Thanks to fish, researchers can forego experiments with higher vertebrates.
Modellorganismus Maus
Mice make up the majority of vertebrates in the animal research facilities of the Max Planck Institutes.
In Germany, research involving monkies is only allowed under observation of strict legal regulations.

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