NCad opinion on 'Alternative methods for killing laboratory animals'
In July 2016, the NCad presented its advisory report on 'Alternative methods for killing laboratory animals' to the Minister of Agriculture, Martijn van Dam. The original report in Dutch was published on the Dutch NCad website in August 2016 in consultation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The report is now also available in English.
In September 2015, the Dutch Minister of Agriculture requested the NCad (Netherlands National Committee for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes) to advise on methods for killing laboratory animals that are considered to be at least as humane as the methods set out in European Directive 2010/63/EU.
The Dutch Minister of Agriculture also asked for the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to be given guidance in assessing such alternative methods of killing by providing elements that must comprise a scientific justification.
The Directive provides two possibilities for deviating from the prescribed methods of killing:
- The purpose of the procedure cannot be achieved by the use of a method of killing set out in the Directive. The Central Authority for Scientific Procedures on Animals (CCD) can, on the basis of a scientific justification submitted by the applicant, decide to grant a project licence for a project in which a different method of killing is proposed than those set out in the Directive. The acceptance of such ‘divergent’ methods of killing is limited to the specific research project for which the licence is granted.
- The other method of killing is considered to be at least as humane as the appropriate methods set out in the Directive. On behalf of the Minister, the NVWA can, on the basis of a scientific justification submitted by the applicant, grant the establishment licensee an exemption or dispensation for a structural (i.e. outside-the-project) use of the alternative method of killing.
The present opinion of the NCad focuses on the second option. At the same time, it may also offer guidance for the CCD, as, if a researcher opts for a divergent method of killing for scientific reasons, the CCD will review whether that method is also acceptable from an animal welfare perspective.