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Green calls for animal replacement; cruel EU proposals

From: Vivien Pomfrey
October 17, 2009

Replace animal tests in EU

The South East's Green MEP launched a new campaign in the European
Parliament on 7 Oct, to urge EU lawmakers to replace the use of animals in
testing and research with non-animal alternatives. Caroline Lucas MEP, who
was recently named the new President of the European Parliament's
influential cross-party Animal Welfare Intergroup, has joined with fellow
MEPs to sign a Written Declaration calling for increased funding for the
development of alternative methods to animal testing - and a 1% 'research
levy' on products that contain ingredients tested on animals. The Written
Declaration, like an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, will become
the official position of the European Parliament if it can attract the
support of at least half of all MEPs. Dr Lucas MEP said: "Since 2007, I have
been working with MEP colleagues and animal protection groups across Europe
on a campaign urging the EU to replace cruel, unnecessary and misleading
animal experiments. The existing law on the use of animals in experiments is
over 20 years old, so action on this is long overdue. "The EC has already
stated that one of its ultimate aims is 'to replace animal experiments with
methods not entailing the use of an animal'. It must now increase funding
for the development and validation of alternative research methods - and
make the administrative processes more efficient. "We propose that the
Commission now assesses options for increasing the funds available,
including the introduction of a 'research levy' of 1% of the selling price
of products that contain ingredients tested on animals." She continued:
"More than 12m animals are used in EU labs each year, yet experiments on
animals can be unreliable as a guide to human biology and the range of
viable alternatives, such as epidemiology, the use of cell cultures, human
tissue and computer simulation, is increasing all the time. "The Commission
should increase funding, introduce quantitative targets for reducing the
number of animals used in experiments, and bring in compulsory inspections
of testing facilities in order to dramatically improve standards of animal
protection."

British civil servants have been shocked by the degree of suffering
permitted by proposed EU rules on animal experiments. The draft EU directive
"on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes" would allow
monkeys, dogs, cats and foals to be used for experiments leading to severe
and lasting pain. Animals' bones could be broken, they could undergo
paralysing electric shocks, they could suffer trauma leading to multiple
organ failure, they could be confined to restrict movement and they could be
kept in isolation for prolonged periods. The standards would also allow
organs to be transplanted between species even if this led to "severe
distress". The rules make clear that experiments would not be confined to
small breeds such as beagles but include large dogs such as St Bernards.
Horses and ponies bred in family stables could be used by laboratories in
Europe. The directive would permit practices banned in Britain, which can
continue to impose its own rules. The Home Office said it did not want to
see British standards weakened. BUAV, which campaigns against animal
testing, accused the EU of ignoring public concerns. A positive measure
introduced by the Parliament is 'biannual thematic reviews' of primate and
other research. These will be systematic assessments of the value of various
kinds of animal experiments, with a view to outlawing those judged to be
useless. The biannual thematic reviews must be supported. Please write to:
Meg Hillier Animal Scientific Procedures Division Home Office 4th Floor
Seacole 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF Email Meg Hillier at
hillierm@parliament .uk Elisabeth Jeggle Parlement européen Bât. Altiero
Spinelli 10E209 60, rue Wiertz / Wiertzstraat 60 B-1047 Bruxelles/Brussel
Email Elisabeth Jeggle at elisabeth.jeggle@ europarl. europa.eu

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