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Commission fails to meet citizens’ animal welfare demands
The success of the ECI, which reached over 1,173,000 signatures, highlighted the fact that animal testing remains a great concern for the citizens of the EU.
At the European Parliament Hearing on the ECI in May, all parties - the organisers of the ECI, the Parliamentarians, the animal user community and those opposed to the use of animals - made a clear call for funding and resources for alternatives. Notably, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, the 2008 Nobel Laureate of Medicine for Physiology, argued that the Commission should support research into alternative methods.
However, the Commission’s disappointing response did not make even a minimal commitment to funding alternatives under EU programmes. This was a missed opportunity for the Commission to show its commitment to the development and validation of alternative approaches.
Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals, of which OneKind is a member, was not reassured by the Commission’s references to previous investments in alternatives, as the priority focus of these was toxicology. However, regulatory toxicology testing accounts for just 9% of all animal tests in Europe while biomedical research represents nearly two-thirds.
Reineke also called for greater efforts to implement and enforce Directive 2010//63/EU on the protection of animals used in scientific procedures, to promote improved animal welfare, more rapid development and uptake of the 3Rs, and improved quality of science.
“Eurogroup has on numerous occasions, since the adoption of the Directive in 2010, stated that there will be no improvement to animal welfare without proper and full implementation of the Directive across all Member States.
“It is a shared responsibility and great opportunity for collaboration between all players to enable the sharing of experiences and expertise on the requirements laid out in the Directive, and to disseminate these in best practices.”
Eurogroup is driving the development of an EU strategy working towards the replacement of animal use in science, testing and education. An EU strategy is necessary to promote innovation and uptake of more humane state-of-the-art methods. It is essential to promote a paradigm shift, stop relying on the use of animals as the “golden rule” and recognise that advancing medical progress, research and innovation is possible with methods which do not rely on animals.
The review of Directive 2010/63/EU - due in 2017 as part of the EU’s normal legislative review process - is of paramount importance. The European Commission needs to involve all stakeholders in the review, promoting constructive dialogue and engagement of all stakeholders on this important issue. But it also needs to commit to funding for projects which progress the ultimate goal of Directive 2010/63/EU - to replace animal testing.