EU Commission pledges to phase out animal testing

The EC has agreed to help reduce animal testing in Europe, but has concerns this could push biomedical research out from the region

The EU has finally listened to the barks that called for less animal testing, and has announced a plan of action to phase it out in Europe

The EU Commission has responded to the ‘Stop Vivisection’ European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) and announced a plan of action in order to phase out animal testing in Europe.

While the commission has acknowledged that animal testing should stop in Europe, it plans to gradually reduce it over a prolonged period of time rather than introducing a complete ban.

The commission has pointed out the main aim of the EU’s rules on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes in Directive 2010/63/EU, which the initiative is attempting to repeal.

The commission’s response is a positive sign for animal rights activists across Europe

“The ‘Stop Vivisection’ Citizens’ Initiative comes at a time of transition – thanks to major technological advances, Europe is reducing the use of animal testing,” says Jyrki Katainen, Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. “However, a complete ban on animal research in the EU would be premature and it would risk chasing out biomedical research from Europe.”

The commission’s response is a positive sign for animal rights activists across Europe and it will help accelerate progress in the area of replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals testing, as well as finding alternative approaches to it.

It is essential that all stakeholders, especially with the scientific community, are involved in the discussion to ensure the phase out is carried out effectively. The commission is in the process of organising a conference in 2016, so that all relevant stakeholders have the opportunity to meet, along with the presentation of a progress report on the actions taken so far.

In recent years, a number of technological advances have helped revolutionise biomedical research, allowing for a massive reduction in the need for animal testing.

However, there are still many complex physiological and toxicological processes and effects, which cannot be assessed via these alternatives methods. Therefore, there is still a need to carry out some tests on animals in order to protect human health, the environment, and continue to advance research.

“The ultimate aim of EU legislation is to phase out all animal testing,” says Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. “In response to the Citizens’ Initiative, the European Commission is taking a number of actions to enable faster progress in the uptake and use of alternatives approaches.”

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