Animal Aid

European vivisection law: Your help needed today!

Posted 17 November 2009

Thank you to all our supporters who, over the past several months, have backed our political lobbying efforts in relation to the updating of European legislation governing animal research across the EU.

It’s been a tough battle, with major setbacks along the way but also some positive developments. The new Directive, depressingly, does not offer the prospect of a ban on all animal research – which is Animal Aid’s campaign objective. But there are measures we can battle for that will represent additional protection for animals in labs.

The process of rewriting the existing Directive – known as 86/609 – involves the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers (made up of Ministers from Member States) and the EU ‘Presidency’ (currently held by Sweden). The next important milestone is likely to occur at the December 14-15 session of the Agriculture Council of Ministers, at which time it is hoped an accord can be reached, paving the way for agreement on a revised Directive at a second reading of parliament next year.

Before that critical mid-December Council meeting, you can help by contacting your MEPs (a letter is far more effective than an email) and letting him or her know which elements of the draft directive should be supported in order to reduce animal suffering and also to promote modern, reliable non-animal research methods. Please write as soon as possible. Some guidance is provided below.

  1. No animal should be subjected to ‘prolonged, severe suffering’.
  2. There must be a firm commitment to a timetable for ending the capture and use in breeding programmes of primates living in the wild.
  3. The Commission wanted non-human primates to be used only in experiments relating to ‘life-threatening or debilitating’ human conditions. Any weakening of that proposed restriction must be opposed. In fact, the term ‘debilitating’ could usefully be defined in the following way: ‘a permanent and substantial reduction in a person’s normal physical and psychological ability to function’.
  4. There should be biannual thematic reviews of categories of experiments with a view to eliminating those experiments judged unnecessary and replacing them, as rapidly as possible, with non-animal methods.
  5. No animal research project should be allowed to proceed on the basis of a ‘notification’ process of tacit approval. Instead, those involved should seek authorisation from a competent authority.
  6. There must be full protection for – and appropriate reporting and publishing of data relating to the use of – animals bred and killed so that their tissues and organs can be used in experiments.
  7. There should be data sharing to avoid duplication of animal tests.
  8. There should be an expanded role for the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM), together with the establishment of National Centres (or Reference Laboratories) in Member States. The functions of the ECVAM-coordinated National Centres would include playing an active role in the validation of alternative methods; the dissemination of information about such methods; and the provision of technical assistance and training to relevant persons.
  9. The Commission should play a constructive role in the operation of the inspection regimes of each Member State.

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