Commission urged to reject call for ban on animals in research

shutterstock_160959890The European Commission has been called upon to ban the use of animals in research.

It is a call that we, along with more than 120 other organisations, are urging it to reject.

Yesterday, the European Commission was presented Stop Vivisection European Citizens’ Initiative, a petition calling for a repeal of European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. In effect: a ban on all research using animals.

The Biochemical Society supports the use of animals in research when properly regulated and when no alternatives are available, as covered in our endorsement of the Society of Biology’s position on the use of animals in scientific research.

European Directive 2010/63/EU – which was developed over two years with robust consultation – achieves this aims, and we have signed a Wellcome Trust-led statement [PDF], urging the European Commission to reject this petition and reaffirm their commitment to the Directive.

Research using animals has played a vital role in the major medical advances of the past century. It has directly contributed to medical and veterinary benefits including development of vaccines, antibiotics, and pioneering medical procedures that save and improve the quality of many human and animal lives.

We want to see a reduction in the use of animals by refining experiments and developing new ways to minimise the use of and replace animals wherever possible – but we also recognise that the technology is not available yet to stop using animals altogether.

Alternatives are sometimes presented including cultures of cells, tissues, computer models and modelling equipment. But it is still difficult to fully develop new medical or veterinary treatments without using animals at some point, for example where it is necessary to monitor a whole body reaction to a drug or procedure.

Through European Directive 2010/63/EU, and the UK Government’s implementation of this directive, all research involving animals in the UK must be licenced and a licence will not be given if the research can be done using non-animal methods[1].

In addition, where there is no alternative to the use of animals in research, procedures must cause the least discomfort or suffering as possible. It is worth noting that 95% of procedures using animals are classified as mild or moderate[2]. Examples of moderate procedures include implanting a wireless transmitter into a rat under general anaesthetic[3].

The Stop Vivisection petition was made under the Citizens’ Initiative programme, in which the Commission must examine, but does not have to accept, the demands of a petition by signed by one million EU citizens. The Commission has three months to respond.

You can help ensure that the properly regulated use of animals in research can continue within the European Union, by contacting your local Member of the European Parliament to personally endorse the statement in support European Directive 2010/63/EU.

[1] http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/how/regulation/

[2] http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/how/myths-and-facts/

[3] http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/how/understanding-animal-procedures/moderate/

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