The public has high expectations regarding availability of food, including global food security, feed and food safety, animal welfare, and the protection of natural resources and of the environment. To meet these expectations and solve conflicts of interest requires extensive research. Animal nutrition research needs both, animal trials and alternative replacement methods. If appropriate alternative methods are not available, animal trials are indispensable. The planning and carrying out of animal trials are based on the 3 R principle, minimizing any load, stress and discomfort of the animals.
The keeping and use of animals by humans are an integral part of social activity and subject of public discussion. Different perceptions for farm animal husbandry therefore have consequences for the scientific work with animals and for the framework conditions under which research activity develops.
Animal experiments are critically judged by parts of the society or completely opposed. However, despite all the successes in the development and establishment of alternative non-animal approaches, animal experiments are still indispensable. The explanation and justification of indispensability is a prerequisite for animal experiments to be accepted by the society. The reasons go beyond the intrinsic motivation and scientific responsibility of the researchers as well as the legal mandate for scientific research. The indispensability of animal experiments is determined by the manifold demands and expectations which are the result of complex social discussions and the resulting political decisions.