VIER PFOTEN: New EU rules on animal experiments “a missed opportunity” for animals and humane science
FOUR PAWS has today cautiously welcomed the news that EU member states have adopted a new draft Directive that will govern animal research and testing. Over twelve million animals such as monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits and mice are used each year in EU laboratories, and the new law will replace the twenty year old EU Directive 86/609 that regulates their use.
Revision of the existing Directive has been vital because its provisions are not sufficient to meet the behavioural and physical needs of animals and it fails to reflect two decades worth of scientific advances particularly in non-animal research techniques. Whilst important progress has been achieved in some areas, FOUR PAWS is concerned that the agreement reached still falls far short of delivering real change for animals and the advancement of humane research methods.
Says Marie-Claire Macintosh, Head of Laboratory Animals, FOUR PAWS:
“The new EU law on animal experiments will provide some important improvements in areas where current protection for animals in laboratories is wholly inadequate and that is very welcome. However FOUR PAWS is disappointed that EU politicians have missed this key opportunity to produce truly progressive legislation with animal welfare and modern non-animal research science at its heart. Millions of animals continue to suffer in experiments that increasingly prove to be unreliable. EU citizens strongly support the creation of a strategy to reduce and ultimately replace animal experiments and revision of the law provided a clear opportunity to achieve that, for the benefit of animals, human health and scientific progress. It is regrettable that that potential has not been fully realised. We now hope that individual member states will succeed where the EU institutions have failed, and use national implementation of the new law as a chance to go further than what has been agreed.”
Positive outcomes of the new law include:
– A ban on the use of great apes such as chimpanzees (with exceptions)
– Restrictions on the use of wild-caught animals (with exemptions)
– Ethical and scientific review before animal experiments are authorised
– Increased action at EU- and member state-level to develop and promote non-animal research methods not just for regulatory testing but in all areas of animal use including medical research and education.
Negative outcomes of the new law include:
– Removal of the obligation to use alternatives to animals where they are ‘reasonably and practicably available’. Downgrading the obligation to use replacement techniques significantly reduces animal protection and does little to prioritise modern, humane alternatives.
– No commitment to a targeted EU strategy to reduce and replace animal experiments over time.
– No significant restrictions on the use of non-human primates
The draft directive reflects the provisional agreement reached in an informal trialogue on 7 April 2010 with the European Parliament and is expected to be formally adopted by the Parliament in September. EU member states will then have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.
FOUR PAWS will be actively working across EU member states to ensure that wherever possible, national legislation introduces higher standards of animal protection than those set out in the EU Directive and that national inspection and enforcement obligations are fully implemented.