Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

EU decision on fate of lab animals imminent

Posted: 4 December 2009

A decision which could seal the future of the millions of animals used in laboratories could be made as early as next week, it was revealed yesterday (2 December 2009) at a meeting of the European Parliament Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

Key players in the debate on the new Directive on the protection of animals used in scientific procedures provided an update to the committee on the latest negotiations and progress with the Directive.

ADI was on hand continuing its strong lobbying presence during the discussions, and presented a letter to key decision makers signed by over 10,000 people urging them to use the revision of the new Directive on animal testing to ensure the best possible protection for lab animals.

The Directive has been hotly debated during trialogue discussions between the European Commission, the Swedish Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Rapporteur and Shadow Rapporteurs.

The German MEP Elisabeth Jeggle, Rapporteur for the Directive, said she expected to reach an agreement on Monday for a final vote in the first half of 2010 in the European Parliament Plenary.

According to Marit Paulsen MEP, Shadow Rapporteur for the ALDE group, both the MEPs and the Council have been undermining animal welfare measures in order to reach an agreement. She nonetheless supported a quick agreement but insisted on the need for laboratory inspections.

Jill Evans, the Green-EFA Shadow Rapporteur, was critical of the current process and asked for stronger protection for primates and better mechanisms to implement alternative methods. Her support for strong animal protection was unfortunately not echoed by the S&D speaker, M. Manuel Capoulas Santos who deemed the outcome of the negotiations to be a ‘breakthrough’.

The pro-vivisection MEPs raised the issue once again that research will go abroad if standards are raised, despite overwhelming evidence that research is most competitive in countries where animal welfare is high.

The new Directive, for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, was proposed in 2008 to replace the outdated EC Directive 86/609/EC. This provides the greatest opportunity in over 25 years to influence the use of animals, and in particular primates, in laboratories.

Over 5,000 British and nearly 3,000 Italian citizens signed ADI’s letter with the remainder coming from all over the world. The letter requests that the Directive includes:

•A ban on the use of great apes and wild-caught primates;
•Limits on primate experiments;
•A phase-out of the use of monkeys born of wild-caught parents;
•Prohibition of severe and prolonged suffering for animals in experiments;
•Authorisation of all experiments by national governments before they take place, using an authorisation process that is transparent, independent and accountable to the public;
•A comprehensive authorisation and licensing system for suppliers of laboratory animals, user establishments, and individuals who use animals, together with a strict training regime;
•Permission to use animals is only given if advanced techniques to replace animals have been considered first;
•Every two years, a review should take place of the use of specific species, or types of experiment, and targets should be set to replace animals in particular tests;
•Establish an EU centre for replacement of animal experiments;
•EU standards for husbandry and care that meet the ethological needs of the animals;

The members of the Trialogue have not been able to agree on various points of the Directive and Animal Defenders International (ADI) is pushing for the best possible animal protection, whilst advocating the introduction of advanced non-animal techniques, which is good for both animals and humans.

Tim Phillips, ADI Campaign Director, said: “This could be the last chance for EU representatives to make a difference to the future of millions of lab animals that suffer and die in laboratories. It is also an opportunity to bring in advanced non-animal methods that will keep Europe at the forefront of research. Under the Directive, we could see animal experiments being replaced by alternatives and a halt to monkeys taken from the wild for lab breeding farms. However, if the decision is rushed through such measures may not be secured and animals will suffer while European research stays in the dark ages.”

More than half of all MEPs in the European Parliament signed a Declaration in 2007, calling for a ban on the use of great apes and wild caught monkeys and for a timetable to phase out all primate experiments.

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