Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Deadline approaches for crucial vote on protection of animals used in scientific tests

Posted: 5 March 2009

A crucial vote takes place at the meeting of the European Parliament’s Research and Industry Committee (ITRE) on Monday, on the Commission’s proposals for a new Directive on the use of animals for scientific purposes.

The European Parliament currently has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect animals and to strengthen European science in the field of advanced scientific methods of non-animal research. It’s the first time in 23 years that this legislation has been revised.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has praised several high-profile MEPs for putting forward key amendments to the proposals, which would put the replacement of animal tests with advanced methods at the heart of the new Directive.

However, ADI is disappointed that some of the amendments so far can only be described as destructive. Much of the debate has been dominated by sweeping generalisations and scare mongering about scientific progress from those with vested interests – arguments which do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

ADI has urged MEPs to ignore the rhetoric of an industry that values its secrecy and to bring in a new era of transparency and regular reviews of the use of animals in research, and the alternatives.

Jerzy Buzek MEP, ex-Prime Minister of Poland, is among the members of the ITRE Committee to table amendments that focus on replacing animals in scientific procedures with advanced scientific techniques – this would benefit European science and industry, improve safety testing for the public, whilst protecting animals.

ADI has written to every member of the European Parliament’s ITRE and AGRI committees to urge them to take a pragmatic and sensible approach to this issue and vote for these amendments.

The fate of countless animals, including the controversial use of primates, will be decided over the next few weeks. The opportunity is there to replace the use of primates where alternatives are available, and to prohibit testing on wild-caught primates and great apes.

80% of European citizens are opposed to primate use, and conservation of the primate species is paramount – now the IUCN has concluded that almost half of primate species are now endangered, or critically endangered.

In 2007, 55% of the European Parliament signed a Declaration calling for an early end to the use of great apes and wild-caught primates, and for a phase-out of all primate research.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, says “It is very positive that high profile and respected Members of the European Parliament have tabled these amendments that will help end animal suffering without compromising scientific research. I urge members of the Industry Committee to vote in these changes so this Directive can make a significant move towards ending animal suffering, whilst improving investment for development of advanced scientific research techniques. Without these changes these regulations could undermine protection for animals and destroy years of progress.”

For further information, contact ADI Public Relations Officer, Ally MacDonald
Office Tel: 020 7630 3344. Mobile: 07785 552548
Email: pr@ad-international.org

The vote in the Industry Committee (ITRE) takes place in Strasbourg on Monday 9th March 2009.

The full text of the proposal to revise 86 609 EEC (released on November 5th, 2008) which governs the rules on all animal testing across Europe is available here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2008:0543:FIN:EN:PDF

The ADI/NAVS ‘Vision for Europe’ report, giving a breakdown of the proposals and calls for amendments, is available here: http://www.savetheprimates.org/files/adivisionforeurope.pdf

Examples of alternatives to animal-based research methods:

Microdosing :
The European Union Microdose AMS Partnership Programme (EUMAPP) has had very positive results with microdosing/AMS proving to be 80% predictive of human absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. This is considerably more accurate than primate tests, where results are shown to be predictive only 30% of the time.

Neuroimaging:
Another emerging and developing area of research, which is offering an effective alternative to the use of monkeys. A new provision for regular thematic reviews under Article 8 of the proposed Directive would enable assessment and implementation of replacement strategies for primates in neuroscience, and indeed, in regulatory testing

Computer based alternatives in higher education:
Another field where considerable advances have been made in some European countries – as well as even further afield, such as China and Brazil. This is a sector where the implementation of a thematic review (under Article 53) could save 200,000 animals per year and potentially many, many more. These new teaching programmes have been demonstrated to both replace animals and provide science students with an excellent education, and sophisticated knowledge and skills for the future.

The full text of Written Declaration 40 and details of MEP signatories supporting a timetable to phase out all primate tests is available here: http://www.navs.org.uk/take_action/39/0/885/

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