Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, has joined animal protection groups across Europe in calling on the European Union to increase action to replace animal experiments. As Europe’s 20 year old law governing animal experiments undergoes a much needed review(1), campaigners are calling for greater action and urgency in replacing animal experiments with more ethical and scientifically reliable non-animal research techniques.
Jean Lambert, a Member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, which is against testing on animals, has added her name to a Europe-wide petition being collected in 11 European languages and supported by animal groups across the EU such as Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK(2). The petition was launched by the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity.
Says Wendy Higgins, Communications Director for the Dr Hadwen Trust:
“There’s unlikely to be a better moment than this for the European Union to really commit to meaningful action to replace animal experiments. Animal research is not only cruel, it also has significant scientific limitations which mean it can never be relied on to guarantee human health or safety. Modern non-animal techniques are the way forward and now as Europe’s animal testing legislation is reviewed, legislators have it within their power to put non-animal replacements at the heart of Europe’s research agenda. We want to see real commitment to targeted action and massively increased efforts.”
Jean Lambert MEP commented: “Europe’s ‘animal testing’ legislation – Directive 86/609 – is desperately out of date. Animal Experimentation is cruel, unnecessary and whilst the public vote with their feet increasingly making a conscious decision to buy products and brands against testing on animals, clearly flies in the face of public opinion.
“We have previously called for a complete and permanent ban on the testing and sale of cosmetics and medicines tested on animals and will once again remind the EU Commission of this demand urging them to bring this, and other animal protection policies, into modern legislation.”
The directive does not regulate large areas of animal experimentation such as ‘basic research’ (including much medical research). Consequently, pan-European efforts to find non-animal replacement techniques have tended to overlook these areas, despite the fact that they offer some of the most significant opportunities for making progress in non-animal testing.
The Dr Hadwen Trust is now urging the European Union to use the revision of Directive 86/609 as a spring board for massively increasing replacement efforts (3). There are currently more than 13 million animal experiments in Europe each year (4), with the UK the largest user of laboratory animals in Europe (5).
Says Wendy Higgins:
“The Dr Hadwen Trust’s own non-animal research into illnesses such as epilepsy, cancer, meningitis, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and AIDS, proves that we don’t need to make a choice between helping animals or helping people. I would encourage anyone who cares about animal and human suffering to sign our petition and help us demonstrate that European citizens want a non-animal testing future now!”
Council Directive 86/609/EEC of 24 November 1986 on the approximation of laws and administrative provisions of the Member States regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. The Commission will produce and adopt a proposal which will be sent to the European Parliament and the Council to undergo co-decision procedure (due to start early/mid 2007, and lasting approximately two years).