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Animal Defenders International

European Parliament sets historic target to end experiments on primates

Posted: 21 November 2007

Adoption of Declaration may be single most important breakthrough in over a decade.

In September 433 MEPs signed Written Declaration 40/2007 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 non-human primates in Europe.

Your postcards, letters, emails and the donations you sent enabled us to lobby relentlessly in Brussels and Strasbourg. Together, we did it!

The Declaration,drafted by ADI, was adopted at the Parliament?s Plenary session, and now the European Commission will produce an action plan.

This move has the backing of every political group, and MEPs from every country in Europe. It sends a powerful message to the European Commission, which is currently reviewing rules for animal experiments across Europe.

The Declaration recognises that nonhuman primates are our closest relatives, with chimpanzees sharing over 98% of our DNA; like us, they have forms of language, culture, and live in ADI & NAVS family groups. Primates suffer terribly in laboratories and urgent action is required to bring their suffering to an end. We trust that this vote will immediately end plans for a centralised chimpanzee laboratory in Europe.

Over 10,000 non-human primates are used in experiments in Europe every year with the UK being Europe?s largest user, followed by France and Germany.

In order for the Declaration to become European Parliament policy, we needed to secure the signatures of half the 786 MEPs. We therefore mobilised campaigners across Europe; distributed copies of a special DVD and scientific briefings in all the EU languages; organised meetings and events in Strasbourg and Brussels. Importantly, the backing of the political heavyweights in all the main political groups was secured ? Conservative, Socialist, Greens, and Liberals.

Written Declaration 40/2007 was launched on April 24 2007, World Lab Animal Day, sponsored by a group of respected and visionary MEPs: John Bowis (UK), Martine Roure (France), Jens Holm (Sweden), Rebecca Harms (Germany) and Mojca Drcar Murko (Slovenia). It:

Urges the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to use the revision process of 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;
Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

A lighter touch was introduced to this serious campaign with packets of ?Primints?, chimp door hangers, and ?gorillagrams?. Securing the signatures of 393 extremely busy MEPs within the 3-month deadline is an enormous undertaking. Each MEP has to be spoken to, emailed and faxed. Our London office was the hub of the electronic campaign; our supporters provided the strength of public feeling on the issue, and our partner organisations mobilised their key campaigners.

On the final days, the MEPs were rushing to sign before the deadline, even though the minimum number had already been achieved! This resulted in a massive 433 signatures, making 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 Declaration marks just the start of a major campaign to eradicate primate experiments, but a course is now signposted. We will be ensuring that the route is followed and have already begun work on the next phase of this campaign.

We thought readers would enjoy this summary of the campaign:

The road to victory

September 2006: Launch of Written Declaration 64/2006 in the European Parliament for International Primate Day 2006 calling for a ban on primates in experiments within six years.

January 2007: Written Declaration 64/2006 lapses with 88 signatures. ADI/NAVS prepare a new declaration informed by dialogue with MEPs during the campaign for WD64 that will build on the support gained.

April 2007: Written Declaration 40 is launched on 24 April for World Lab Animal Day with support from 41 MEPs. Several European groups join the campaign. Goodie bags are distributed to MEPs; a reception and photocall are organised in Strasbourg; postcards sent to supporters for them to write to MEPs.

May 2007: The ADI team is back in Strasbourg to distribute leaflets to MEPs. Tim Philips, Campaigns Director, addresses the Intergroup for Animal Welfare, chaired by Neil Parish MEP. Letter writing, emailing and faxing are underway. Signatures rise.

June 2007: Door-to-door campaign in Brussels with a ?gorillagram? urging MEPs to support their primate cousins. ADI/NAVS supporter?s letters and postcards start flooding MEPs? desks and sister groups are taking up the campaign ? we produce postcards in French with Ligue Française Contre la Vivisection. In Strasbourg we visit more MEPs and distribute our Primate Nations report translated in all major EU languages: 178 MEPs have now signed.

July 2007: We publish our detailed response to the primate research policy document of the EU?s Scientific Steering Committee, countering with scientific facts; translated into 5 languages. WD40 mints also prove popular and are seen all over the Parliament! We continue to meet MEPs, and our exhibition stand at the heart of the Parliament screens our film My Mate?s a Primate. We follow the MEPs back to Brussels - more meetings, more leafletting. The number of signatures jumps to 296!

September 2007: Chimp door hangers with a ‘sorry to disturb.. but please sign..’ message in 8 languages reminds all those MEPs who have yet to sign, that time is running out. We distribute a letter from John Bowis MEP and new WD40 DVD. Our stand, screening the new DVD, attracts more interest. The fax in Millbank Tower doesn’t stop. On Wednesday 5th September we hit the critical 393 signatures. Chief Executive Jan Creamer announces the historic victory to MEPs at the meeting of the Intergroup for Animal Welfare. Adoption of the Declaration is officially declared in Plenary by the President of the European Parliament on Thursday 6th September and Declaration 40 closes on the same day, with 433 signatures.

Next Steps

We have the backing of one institution, now we need to secure the backing of the European Commission and Council of Ministers. We need YOUR help!

How you can help

Press the Council of Ministers to support rapid implementation of WD40. The UK Council representatives are:

Write to:
Ms Jacqui Smith MP,
Secretary of State for the Home Department,
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

and to:

Mr John Grant CMG,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of the UK,
Avenue d’Auderghem 10,
B-1040 Bruxelles
Belgium.

Urge the European Commission to implement WD40 in the revision process of EC Directive 86/609:

Write to:
Mr Stavros Dimas,
Commissioner for Environment,
European Commission,
B1049 Brussels,
Belgium.

Need help? Draft letters are available from ADI +44 (0)20 7630 3340 or on the website.

Are you outside the UK? Details of addresses for European Council of Ministers representatives for other Europen countries, from ADI +44 (0)20 7630 3340 or on the website.

Please send a donation:

A huge debt is owed to those who have contributed financially to this campaign. Costs include multiple translations, printing scientific reports and leaflets, producing DVDs, getting the campaign team (both ours and other groups? reps) to Brussels and Strasbourg. Keep this campaign moving forward, please donate today.

Distribute our new campaign leaflet:

Order leaflets for distribution from our London office. It is vital that we engage the public in this important campaign.

Thank You

This victory was only possible thanks to a united effort by campaigners and MEPs. Special thanks to the MEPs with the vision to sponsor Written Declaration 40/2007: Jens Holm (Sweden), John Bowis (UK), Martine Roure (France), Rebecca Harms (Germany) and Mojca Drcar Murko (Slovenia), (pictured below, cartoon style,with friends!)

Written Declaration 64/2006 built the foundations and was sponsored by: UK MEPs David Martin, Robert Evans, Sajjad Karim; Portuguese MEP Paulo Casaca; and Swedish MEP Carl Schlyter. Active support came from MEPs: Dr Caroline Lucas, Liz Lynne, Neil Parish, Roberto Musacchio, Mary- Lou McDonald, Struan Stevenson, Chris Davies, Sharon Bowles, Dr Charles Tannock, James Nicholson, Mike Nattrass, Ian Hudghton, Jonathan Evans, Jill Evans, Richard Corbett and Glyn Ford.

Our thanks also to UK MPs, Colin Challen, Norman Baker, Mike Hancock, David Lepper and David Drew.

We worked closely with Eurogroup for Animals, and the following animal protection groups came running when the primates needed them: Animal Aid ; Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN); Antidote; Asociación Nacional para la Defensa de los Animales (ANDA); Destination Enfer; Djurens Rätt; Fundacion FAADA; Greek Animal Welfare Fund; International Animal Rescue Malta; Irish Anti- Vivisection Society; Lega Anti Vivisezione; Ligue Française Contre la Vivisection; People Against Chimpanzee Experiments (PACE); PETA Europe; Pro- Anima; Refuge de Thiernay; Wilde Dieren de Tent Uit.

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

© Animal Defenders International 2014