Advice from BuRO on the evaluation of the Animals Act

The Office for Risk Assessment & Research (BuRO) makes a number of recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) regarding the Animals Act with the aim of better managing animal welfare risks.

Advice from BuRO

Advice from BuRO to the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV):

  • Redefine the term ‘animal welfare’.
  • Establish the definition of the ‘intrinsic value’ of animals and elaborate on this definition.
  • Ensure that Article 1.4 (General duty of care) gains more significance for the protection of animal welfare and then enters into force.
  • Ensure that specific legislation is drafted for the types of animal species kept most in the Netherlands.
  • Ensure as well that the existing parts of the Animals Act and underlying legislation and regulations correspond with recent accepted scientific insights.
  • When evaluating the Animals Act, reconsider whether the intrinsic value and, as such, the integrity, of animals has been safeguarded sufficiently for all permitted interventions.
  • Elaborate on basic proficiency requirements.
  • During the periodic evaluation of legislation and regulations, focus on any changes necessary and consider scientific (and social) developments.

Animals Act

The Dutch Animals Act (Wet dieren) is one of a number of policy instruments used to safeguard animal welfare and animal and public health in the Netherlands. Its aim is to achieve a simple, transparent and coherent system of rules. The Animals Act came into effect in a number of phases from 1 January 2013 up to and including 1 July 2014. The rules dictate how animals are to be treated by humans and manage the risks that animals or animal products could create for humans and other animals. The Animals Act was drafted with the following ambitions in mind:

  • To bring together coherent legislation for various target groups (animal keepers, veterinarians and traders, etc.).
  • To protect animals by recognising their intrinsic value.
  • To protect humans and the environment by drafting rules to ensure that animals and animal products are safe for humans and also limit and avoid the unwanted emissions of substances into the environment.
  • To balance different interests when drafting regulations:
    • animal health and animal welfare
    • the individuality and integrity of animals
    • the protection of human health and safety
    • the protection of the environment in relation to the use of animal feed
    • use of veterinary medicinal products
    • the honesty of trade in animals and animal products.

Evaluation of the Animals Act

Article 10.11. of this Act stipulates that the Act is to be evaluated after five years. In 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (Ministry of LNV) launched a project to evaluate the Animals Act and the underlying regulations.

Reason advice of BuRO

In recent years, the Office for Risk Assessment & Research (BuRO) of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) has issued a number of recommendations and risk assessments on the subject of animal welfare, among other things. The BuRO also monitors (international) scientific developments in the field of animal welfare.

BuRO has issued this unsolicited advice to map out whether animal welfare risks can be adequately managed within the current Animals Act and what adjustments are considered necessa