MEPs vote to allow severe and prolonged suffering of animals and say it’s in the interests of animal welfare

Posted on the 1st April 2009

Yesterday (31st March) in the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee (AGRI), MEPs backed a series of amendments that seriously weaken proposals from the European Commission to regulate animal testing across Europe. Some measures could set animal protection back decades.

This is the first revision for 23 years of Directive 86/609/EEC (regulating animal experimentation across Europe). ‘It had been hoped that it would be a major step forward, bringing in advanced replacement methods to gradually phase out animal use. European Commission proposals to revise the legislation had been cautiously welcomed, although many felt they did not go far enough.

‘But MEPs, heavily briefed by animal supply and user industries, tabled hundreds of amendments to undermine the new proposals’, said Jan Creamer, Director of ADI, which has been engaged in intense lobbying at the Parliament. ‘These lobbyists flooded the committee members with multiple changes that muddied the waters,’ she added.

In yesterday’s AGRI Committee, MEPs voted on more than 500 amendments. The amendments voted through by MEPs included:

    • Reducing the scientific justification needed to experiment on monkeys – despite the enormous public concern, there will be less scrutiny of proposals to use primates.
    • European Commission’s proposals to stop the trapping of wild monkeys – delayed indefinitely.
    • Authorisation/licensing of almost all experiments would be ended – the majority of animal research would be a free-for-all.
    • Allowing almost unlimited re-use of animals in all but a handful of experiments, including toxicity tests and inducing brain damage.
    • Allowing animals to suffer severe and prolonged pain.

Says Animal Aid’s Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘The voting by this key committee is bitterly disappointing and way out of step with what the public wants and expects. This revision of the laws governing vivisection across Europe has been hailed as offering significant extra protection for animals. Yet, incredibly, the key committee has voted to allow animals to be subjected to prolonged and severe suffering – a situation previously prohibited in Britain’.

‘The vote signals just how hard a fight everyone who cares about animal protection and modern science has been engaged in and what will be faced in the weeks and months to come. The next vital stage is a vote on these proposals by the whole Parliament in plenary session, at which time fresh amendments can be tabled.’

‘Compassionate people must stand ready to engage in a massive and focused lobbying exercise that succeeds in communicating to all MEPs the public’s outrage at such a huge betrayal. They must demand that the lost ground is recovered and that animals used in labs – who already suffer grievously – receive significantly increased protection.’


      • 80% of European citizens find primate research unacceptable.
      • In 2007, 55% of MEPs voted for an early end to the use of great apes and wild-caught primates, and for a phase-out of all primate use.

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