PhD student and toxicologist Jonathan Nicolas is hoping to remove animal testing from the seafood hygiene industry.
Jonathan is a biologist and PHD student at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He has been developing alternatives to animal testing in collaboration with the Division of Toxicology and RIKILT Institute of Food Safety. During his studies, Jonathan became aware of the unnecessary use of animals in experiments lacking value and purpose, which motivated his research into different methods of food safety.
His current collaboration involves inventing alternative means for detecting marine biotoxins in seafood. Instead of relying on traditional methods, Jonathan is developing laboratory cell screening, and is convinced that this could replace animal-based in vivo assays in the future. This focus is in line with European regulations stating that most uses of the mouse bioassay will be banned from 2015 onwards, with some exceptions. Developments like Jonathan's will consequently have broad social implications in terms of how we measure marine-food hygeine with the decrease of mouse bioassay. While recognising this development in European policy, Jonathan is aware that there is a great deal more work to be done to end animal-testing in the industry.
He and his team remain committed to replacing conventional methods of seafood testing involving animals with the laboratory tests they are developing. The money from the Lush Prize will ensure they can continue to pursue cruelty-free alternatives for this field.