Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

European Parliament sets historic target to end all experiments on primates

Posted: 7 September 2007

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Adoption of Declaration is most important single breakthrough in over a decade on animal tests

This week 433 MEPs signed a Written Declaration calling for urgent action to end the use of Great Apes and wild-caught monkeys in experiments, and for a timetable to be set to end all experiments on primates across Europe.

The Declaration, championed by Animal Defenders International (ADI), was adopted at the Parliament’s Strasbourg session, and now the European Commission will produce an action plan.

In an unprecedented collaboration, the move to end primate experiments has the backing of every political group, and MEPs from every country in Europe.

It sends and incredibly powerful message to the European Commission, who are currently reviewing rules for animal experiments across Europe, to act and to act now.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive: “This Declaration recognises that primates are our closest relatives, with chimpanzees sharing 98% of our DNA – like us, they have forms of language, culture, and live in family groups. Primates suffer terribly in laboratories and urgent action is required to end these tests. We hope that this will immediately end plans for a centralised chimpanzee laboratory in Europe and quickly halt the snatching of monkeys from the wild for European labs. Then a timetable to end these tests will finally give us a route by which to end the suffering of these intelligent creatures. This is the biggest breakthrough in our campaign since the European commitment to end cosmetics tests on animals”.

Over 10,000 primates are used in experiments in Europe every year with the UK being Europe’s largest single user followed by France and Germany. An exposé by ADI last year featured a huge new primate supply facility in Spain, importing monkeys from Mauritius; this had fuelled fears that an explosion in European primate use was on the horizon.

In order to secure the European Parliament commitment ADI had to secure the signatures of half the MEPs (393) and mobilised campaigners across Europe in an intense lobbying campaign. ADI distributed DVDs, scientific reports, and information to MEPs; supporters flooded MEPs with letters; events and meetings were staged in Strasbourg and Brussels; and importantly, the backing of heavyweights in the political groupings – Conservative, Socialist, Greens, and Liberals – was secured.

The move received widespread support, with MEPs rushing to sign before the deadline, even though the minimum number had already been achieved, resulting in a massive 433 signatures. This makes it the most supported Written Declaration on an animal protection issue ever, and the third highest number of signatures on any Declaration since 2000.

The Commission therefore has a clear mandate of the will of Parliament.

Jan Creamer: “Our team is jubilant and hugely grateful to everyone who helped. This has been a great week for primates.”

The Declaration marks just the start of a major campaign to eradicate primate experiments, but a course is now signposted. ADI will be ensuring that the route is followed.

Written Declaration 40/2007 was sponsored by:
UK MEP John Bowis, French MEP Martine Roure, Swedish MEP Jens Holm, German MEP Rebecca Harms and Slovenian MEP Mojca Drcar Murko.

The Declaration, adopted this week, urges the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to use the revision process of animal experiments Directive 86/609/EC as an opportunity to:
(a) make ending the use of apes and wild-caught monkeys in scientific experiments an urgent priority;
(b) establish a timetable for replacing the use of all primates in scientific experiments with alternatives.

What MEPs are saying:

UK’s Neil Parish MEP and President of the European Parliament’s animal welfare Intergroup, said: “This declaration has been signed by well over 430 members of the European Parliament of all parties and all countries. It sends a clear message to the Commission that animal experimentation should be phased out. This is a very good week for animals”.

UK’s John Bowis MEP, a former Health Minister in John Major’s Government: “I believe, as many scientists, parliamentarians and members of the public, experiments on primates are both unethical and inefficient and can and should be replaced with more advanced scientific techniques”

Swedish MEP Jens Holm: “It is time to end experiments on primates. Primates are sentient beings and are fully capable of having feelings like humans: joy, happiness or anger. Their interest must be fully taken into account and cruelty against them must stop”.

Slovenian MEP Mojca Drcar Murko: “Advanced alternatives to primate experiments in medical research already exist and it is high time to convey our compassion to our species-cousins".

Portuguese MEP Paulo Casaca: “This is a step forward not only for the animals, but also for the competitiveness of our high-tech industry, for science, and for the humans”.

UK MEP Dr Caroline Lucas: “The EU is currently reviewing its rules of laboratory animals, and we must use this opportunity to immediately ban the use of primates in experiments anywhere in the EU, in favour of more modern and effective alternatives like computer modelling, tissue or cell cultures and micro-dosing”.

UK MEP Liz Lynne: A move away from experiments on primates is an important humane step”.

UK MEP Sharon Bowles: “It is unsurprising that 90% of the compassionate British public would like to see more funding allocated to non-animal alternatives for testing. Many alternatives do exist, but their use and further development requires investment and a commitment to innovation.

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NOTES TO EDITORS
Scientific report says it is time to stop primate experiments – click here for more information.

MEPs back campaign to end primate tests across Europe – background information on Written Declaration 40/2007

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