MEPs update law on animal testing

The European Parliament has voted by a large majority to approve a new EU law on animal testing for scientific and medical research which attracted considerable attention both from those concerned with animal welfare and from those concerned about the viability and competitiveness of research in Europe. The EU has already some years ago banned all animal tests for production of cosmetics but 12 million animals a year mainly mice and rats but including nearly 12000 apes and monkeys are used every year in Europe for scientific research.

The new directive revising an outdated one from 1986 covers modern techniques and incorporates the latest advances in animal welfare such as to improve clinical conditions for laboratory animals and reduce pain and suffering.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford said:

"Nobody likes animal experimentation but it is still necessary to advance medical research and develop new treatments possible cures and vaccines the current swine flu pandemic being a case in point. Having a family member with Type 1 diabetes involved in an organisation which fundraises for research into a diabetes cure I am conscious of the importance of making this legislation workable as well as ethical."

"I voted to tighten up the text where it was too weak for instance by making the ban on use of great apes absolute ending all use of wild animals and restricting the use of monkeys to research into diseases which are life-threatening or debilitating for humans. Pressure from the Liberal group resulted in a wider requirement for prior authorisation than the author of the report originally wanted."

"I decided to back the final outcome because while not perfect this new law will substantially improve animal welfare across Europe while allowing responsible research into conditions such as cancer which kill so many of our fellow citizens."

"The pressure must be kept up to find adequate replacement tests which can in time end a lot of animal testing. I hope the campaigners for animal welfare and the scientists whose contributions have been key to getting good law in this critical area will continue to work to improve it further."

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