03 Jun 2015   |   News

Sigh of relief from researchers as EU rejects animal experimentation petition

A complete ban on animal research would be premature and risk chasing biomedical research out of Europe the Commission says in response to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ European Citizen’s Initiative

The European Commission outlined actions it will take in response to the 'Stop Vivisection' European Citizens' Initiative, but said it will not legislate for a ban on animal experimentation.

Whilst it shares the conviction that animal testing should be phased out in Europe, a complete ban would be premature, said Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, who is responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. “Europe is reducing the use of animal testing. However, a complete ban on animal research in the EU would be premature and it would risk chasing out biomedical research from Europe,” Katainen said.

Directive 2010/63/EU, which the Citizen Initiative seeks to repeal, is the right legislation to ensure a high level of protection of the animals used in research, whilst also making moves to reduce experimentation over time, the Commission said.

The Commission will organise a conference by 2016 to present a progress report on the actions taken to accelerate progress in replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals testing.

This is a robust response to the petition, said Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of Understanding Animal Research. “[The Commission’s] report reminds us that most of the medical and veterinary treatments we take for granted would have been impossible without the insights gained in animal studies.” As a result, “Repealing the Directive and banning animal research in the EU would have had huge negative consequences for patients, and for animal welfare,” Jarrett said. 

Nancy Lee, senior policy adviser at the UK research charity Wellcome Trust welcomed the Commission’s show of confidence in Directive 2010/63/EU. “Continuing open discussions about animal research is extremely important,” Lee said. “We are also encouraged that the Commission is organising a conference to engage the scientific community and relevant stakeholders about these issues.”

Kirk Leech, executive director of the European Animal Research Association said he shared petitioners’ concerns for greater transparency and openness. “We will work to proactively engage with European citizens on why and how animals are used in scientific research,” he said.

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