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Vote in European Parliament could send laboratory animal protection back to the Dark Ages

A crucial vote that poses the biggest threat to laboratory animal welfare in decades takes place on Tuesday 31st March – and MEPs are being urged to take a stand against moves that would tear the heart out of existing animal protection legislation across Europe.

MEPs have tabled over 500 amendments to proposals by the European Commission for rules that will govern animal experiments throughout Europe. Amendments to the proposals that will revise Directive 86/609/EEC (the rules for animal experimentation in Europe) will be voted on at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee (AGRI).

The proposals by the European Commission to revise the legislation on animals in scientific experiments had been cautiously welcomed, although many felt they did not go far enough. But now a fierce lobbying campaign by those in the primate trade and research industry threatens to tear apart the proposals and open up a free-for-all in animal experimentation in Europe ¬ taking UK animal protection back to levels last seen in 1876.

The proposals by the European Commission to revise the legislation on animals in scientific experiments had been cautiously welcomed, although many felt they did not go far enough. But now a fierce lobbying campaign by those in the primate trade and research industry threatens to tear apart the proposals and open up a free-for-all in animal experimentation in Europe ¬ taking UK animal protection back to levels last seen in 1876.

The amendments tabled by MEPs include:

  • Reducing justifications needed to experiment on monkeys
  • Overturning the Commission’s proposals to stop the trapping of wild monkeys by dealers who supply European laboratories
  • Weakening a ban on the use of great apes
  • Allowing almost unlimited re-use of animals in all but a handful of experiments, including toxicity tests and inducing brain damage. One amendment even says it should not be necessary for animals to fully recover after one procedure.
  • Permitting animals to be maintained with electrodes and other implants to be used again and again in different experiments.
  • Ending requirements for prior authorisation of almost all experiments.
  • Removing the upper limit on suffering to allow pain to be prolonged.

ADI is calling on MEPs to reject amendments that will set back animal protection and back progressive measures to review and replace animal experiments with advanced techniques.

The European Parliament has a once-in-a-generation 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.

Much of the debate has been dominated by those with a vested interest in the primate supply and user industries, who have been scare mongering among MEPs in a calculated and deliberate attempt to mislead them. One claim is that tighter animal welfare legislation would hold back scientific progress or drive research abroad – a claim which is not supported by UK trade and industry figures. In fact, ADI’s research shows that in countries where animal protection is high and laboratory science well regulated, science and technology flourish.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, says “The animal experimentation industry have seen an opportunity to roll back even the slightest progress and have lobbied to secure a series of destructive amendments. We are on the edge of an abyss for animals used in research, and for European science. It is vital that MEPs do the right thing and ensure that animals are protected and the public desire to see animal experiments replaced is respected. This Directive could make a significant move towards ending animal suffering, whilst improving investment for development of advanced scientific research techniques. MEPs must reject these amendments or we will see laboratory animals left without vital protection for at least a decade.”

We have produced comprehensive technical briefings for all MEPs on the following areas to ensure they are fully informed;

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