MEPs demand action plan to end animal testing in Europe

Posted: 16 September 2021 | | No comments yet

MEPs have requested that the EU adopts new plans to phase out the use of animals in scientific research and testing, focusing on alternatives instead.

Rabbit in laboratory injected with drug

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have requested of the European Parliament an EU-wide action plan with ambitious and achievable objectives as well as timelines for phasing out the use of animals in research and testing. According to the MEPs, this can be achieved by reducing, refining and replacing procedures on live animals for scientific purposes, as soon as it is scientifically possible and without lowering the level of protection for human health and the environment.

Specifically, the MEPs explained that they want sufficient medium- and long-term funding to be made available to ensure the fast development, validation and introduction of alternative testing methods including through increased funding under Horizon Europe. The MEPs also stated that scientists, researchers and technicians must be trained in using advanced non-animal models and in sharing best practices.

Current EU legislation protects the welfare of animals still needed for research. The legislation ultimately aims to stop animals being used for scientific purposes, by continuously replacing, reducing and refining their use in research, regulatory testing and education. Since 1986, the EU has had specific legislation on the use of animals for scientific purposes. The rules currently in place limit animal testing for research and set minimum requirements for accommodating and caring for animals. Additionally, animal testing for finished cosmetic products has been prohibited in the EU since 2004 and for cosmetic ingredients since 2009. However, according to a European Commission report, up to 12 million animals were bred and killed for the purpose of animal testing in 2017 without being used in actual experiments.

Furthermore, the European Parliament claims that it recognises that previous animal testing has contributed to research and medical advances, as well as safe vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, and MEPs also understand that there are cases where animal experiments are still needed to gain scientific insights for certain diseases due to the current unavailability of non-animal methods. Nonetheless, they underlined that these testing regimes must only take place where conditions are optimised to minimise pain, distress and suffering and protect the welfare of the animals concerned.

The resolution “on plans and actions to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education” was adopted by 667 votes to four. It wraps up the debate held during the July Plenary.

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