Thursday 16 September 2021 | 0

A win for animals! European Parliament votes in favour of a comprehensive phase-out of experiments on animals


Mis à jour le 16 September 2021

MEPs call on the European Commission to draw up an action plan to speed up the reduction and replacement of animal experiments

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Picture copyright: Md Hasnat Shahriar Shanto

Yesterday evening, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European  Commission to establish an EU-wide Action Plan for the active phase-out of the use of animals in experiments. MEPs specify that the plan should include milestones and targets to incentivise progress towards the reduction and replacement of animals with non-animal and human-based methods. The votes were clear: 667 in favour, 4 against and 16 abstentions.

The Parliament stressed that the Action Plan should not be the responsibility of a few but instead should be spearheaded by a high-level inter-service taskforce, involving all key Commission Directorates-General and EU Agencies, with the aim of working with Member States and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that changes happen across all sectors.

The need for preferential funding and training for non-animal methods across all EU research and innovation initiatives has also been recognised.

Nearly 10 million animals are used in invasive experiments in EU laboratories every year, including monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice and rats, a huge number of animals that has remained relatively unchanged in the last decade.

Whilst acknowledging existing EU initiatives, MEPs recognised that an active, coordinated approach for reduction and ultimately full replacement of animals has not been achieved.

By requiring an EU-wide action plan with an ambitious timeline, European parliamentarians want to see the phase-out of the use of animals in science driven and accelerated.

Eurogroup for Animals, Cruelty Free Europe which One Voice is the French representative, Humane Society International/Europe, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments which One Voice is also taking part to, and PETA, representing over 100 organisations across Europe, have campaigned for the adoption of the resolution (One Voice wrote to every French MEP) and are now calling on the Commission to make it a priority.

Opinion polls show that ending animal experiments is a priority for EU citizens: nearly three quarters (72%) agree that the European Commission should set binding targets and deadlines to phase out testing on animals. This is echoed by the recently launched European Citizens’ Initiative European Citizens' Initiative (europa.eu), which has already collected almost 120,000 signatures in less than three weeks.

Over one hundred members of the scientific community, as well as the European Consensus Platform on Alternatives, support the position, believing that an action plan can facilitate the transition to non-animal science through the definition of common priorities, allocation of funding and multidisciplinary and inter-service collaborations.

« The vote is an historic moment for the animal protection movement. Finally, the demand of European citizens for a concerted phase-out of animal experiments and a transition to human-relevant science has been heard. New advanced methods based on human biology are not only about protecting animals - they are also fundamental to achieving the Union’s goals of environmental protection and human health. With the Parliament’s vote today, we advance on all three fronts »
commented the group of NGOs.

Tilly Metz MEP (Greens/EFA, LU), Chair of the Animals in Science working Group of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, said:

« The European Parliament understands that the time is right for this action plan because of the work that scientists have been doing to better understand the limitations of animal studies and the potential of non-animal models. There are no excuses to perpetuate the current level of reliance on animal experiments. It is clear that an ambitious phase-out plan, with clear milestones and achievable objectives, is the next step needed to start significantly reducing the use of animals in science. »
« It is now in the hands of the European Commission to establish this EU-wide Action Plan, and we expect the Commission will make this a high-level priority – Because if the Commission is serious about its commitments to EU citizens, it needs to start now the dialogue with all parties to effectively coordinate funding, education and milestones to accelerate the transition to non-animal science” »
added Jytte Guteland MEP (S&D, SE).
« This action plan to phase out animal experiments is a win-win situation for humans, other animals, and the environment. The European Commission and Member States urgently need to increase their efforts to reduce, replace and end the use and misuse of animals for scientific purposes. Animal experiments are still used in many different areas of the Commission’s responsibilities, therefore a coherent approach is essential to achieve safety and sustainability, without animal testing. We need to use science. Not animals. »

concluded Anja Hazekamp MEP (The Left, NL), Chairwoman of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.

Notes:

The rapid emergence of advanced non-animal models such as organs-on-a-chip, pathway-base approaches and computer models offer immense opportunities to replace animals and improve research, but the number of animals used for scientific purposes continue to show a stand-still. The shortcomings of animal models are well documented, while advanced non-animal models are game-changing technologies. They have the potential to significantly improve our understanding of human diseases by producing data based on human biology, leading to considerable benefits for public health in terms of preventing and curing diseases. These new models can also accelerate the pace of chemical assessments and reduce the failure rate during drug development. In addition, advanced non-animal methods represent a new, but already booming market for innovative products and services with an annual growth rate of 12% per year. The Environmental Protection Agency of the USA has already committed to reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammal studies by 30 percent by 2025, and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035. This was followed by a strategic roadmap to move towards animal-free safety testing.

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