The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is opposed to the unnecessary use of lab animals and is a major supporter of the use of alternatives. However, if it is to carry out its tasks properly, research using lab animals is necessary in some cases.
This research is of course carried out carefully in accordance with the legal frameworks set out in the Experiments On Animals Act. RIVM is very aware of the discussions going on in society about the use of lab animals. We have developed our own policy alongside the statutory regulations.
Replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use
RIVM's policy aims to obtain as much information as possible from each lab animal with as little pain as possible for the animal itself. RIVM also invests via its own Strategic Research in alternatives to lab animals. This is part of the Reduction, Replacement and Refinement policy regarding the use of lab animals.
RIVM's scientific research helps to meet the (inter)national aim of politics and society to replace mandatory animal testing with validated alternative methods. RIVM is a respected knowledge institute in this scientific context and aims to lead the way both now and in the future. Before using lab animals RIVM has the need for this tested by non-interested parties.
All in accordance with the policy document Ambitions and Strategy regarding the 3R Alternatives to Animal Testing (in Dutch only).
Responsibility and quality requirements
From among its members RIVM's management appoints a centre manager who is responsible for the organisation's animal testing policy. He/she is accountable each year for this and is chair of an RIVM-wide advisory group on the animal testing policy. RIVM sets quality requirements for its employees. Its employees undergo suitable training and have the correct – mandatory – authority to make decisions about tests on animals and about the implementation of procedures on animals. RIVM also ensures that the employees retain the required level of knowledge.
Research that is contracted out to third parties and that involves testing on lab animals has to meet the following three criteria:
- the organisation must meet the quality requirements set by RIVM
- the long-term continuity of the contracted-out research must be ensured
- the implementation of the research must be verifiable
RIVM therefore aims to conclude long-term agreements, set out in a covenant, for the research that it contracts out.
RIVM works closely with IntraVacc's (previously the Joint Animal Testing Laboratory of the Netherlands Vaccine Institute) Animal Research Center (ARC). This organisation carries out the experiments on animals and provides RIVM with knowledge about the implementation of experiments. RIVM helps the ARC to guarantee the quality of the implementation of animal experiments. This collaboration is set out in a covenant.