When is an animal experiment necessary and when is it not? Ethically and medically, the answer is difficult. Animal rights activists in Berlin now have the right to judiciously examine animal testing. This is in a bill that Senator of Consumer Protection Dirk Behrend (Greens) submitted to the Senate on Tuesday.
Until now, only scientists are allowed to seize the courts if they are banned from animal testing. Activists and organizations, on the other hand, currently have no chance to legally defend themselves against an experiment in the interest of animals. In principle, the National Office of Health and Social Affairs (Lageso) in Berlin must accept any animal testing.
"Animals naturally can not sue themselves," said Senator Behrend. "However, for animal rights organizations, there is still no possibility to attack illegal acts or omissions on the part of the authorities of the state of Berlin on behalf of animals . "
In the jargon, experts speak here of the so-called law of collective action. It allows organizations to go to court without seeing their own rights violated. It is enough that they want to provide an answer to the general public. In other federal states such as Hamburg, Bremen or Saarland, animal rights activists can already claim collective actions.
Reviews of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Experiments on prohibited and permitted animals are described in the Animal Protection Act. The rule is that Lageso should approve testing only in the absence of alternative test procedures. However, the criteria are disputed, there is always debate.
While animal protection groups praise the bill, critics come from the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK). "Legal uncertainty could block developments medically relevant to humans for years," said Henrik Vagt, director of the directorate for economics and politics at the IHK. The already high protection of laboratory animals is hardly improving.
"In Berlin, this law potentially leads to competitive disadvantages, emigration, appointment problems and weak cooperation partners in the field of research," said Vagt. He sees the Berlin science site threatened. The Berlin economy therefore calls on the Senate to "appropriately associate regulation with a real benefit for the welfare of animals".
Renowned research institutes also claim to be dependent on animal experiments in some cases. "Even if we use methods without animals whenever possible, we can not do without animal experiments for the moment, depending on the current state of scientific knowledge," writes the Center. Max Delbrück (MDC) on his website.
Thomas Sommer, Scientific Director of the MDC, is nevertheless satisfied with the bill. "We support anything that builds trust in our research," said Sommer. At the same time, he described cardiovascular diseases as areas of research that do not pass without animal testing. "We work on the one hand with human tissue," says Sommer. "But as soon as the entire cardiovascular system is developed, it can not be done without animal experiments." The MDC reported about 52,000 animal experiments in 2018 in Lageso.
In Lageso's latest 2017 survey, around 220,000 animal tests were performed in Berlin. This corresponds to a decrease of 11% compared to the previous year. Of the only animals, there were approximately 188,000 mice. Rats (24,226 laboratory animals) ranked second, followed by fish (3,926) and chickens (1770). In monkeys, researchers conducted experiments in 109 cases.