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The European Parliament has adopted a resolution vote calling on the European Commission to establish an EU-wide Action Plan to replace the use of animals in experiments with non-animal human-relevant methods.
Every year, nearly 10 million animals are used in experiments in EU laboratories, including dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and mice. This huge number of animals hasn't changed in the last decade even though scientists have successfully developed other than animal-based methods for testing. The parliament members recognised that an active, coordinated approach for the full replacement of animals has not been achieved. By requiring an EU-wide action plan with an ambitious timeline and list of milestones, the European Parliament is aiming to drive the active phase-out of animals used for all scientific purpose
The EU vote has been welcomed by animal welfare groups. Humane Society International called the vote “an historic opportunity to take animal suffering out of EU the equation and shift the focus to modern, cutting-edge, human relevant research.”
Animal charities including Eurogroup for Animals, Cruelty Free Europe, Humane Society International/Europe, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments and PETA, representing over 100 organisations from 24 EU Member States, that have campaigned for the passing of the resolution for years are now calling on the Commission to make it a priority.
Troy Seidle, Humane Society International’s vice president for research and toxicology, says: “This vote signals the need for systemic change in the EU’s approach to safety science and health research, with Parliament embracing an historic opportunity to take animal suffering out of the equation and shift the focus to modern, human relevant technologies. If our goal isn’t to cure cancer in mice or prevent birth defects in rabbits, we need to let go of the unfounded belief that these animals are miniature people and get serious about understanding and predicting human biology in the real world. Human organ-chips, stem cell models and next-generation computing allow us to do exactly that, and can deliver considerable benefits in the study of uniquely human diseases and the assessment of potential new medicines and chemical safety generally. Today with this historic vote, the EU Parliament is calling for pro-active and coherent policies to phase-out animal experiments, such as preferential funding for non-animal methods, training scientists in new technologies and key regulatory changes to chemicals legislation. We call on the Commission to embrace these proposals and recognise that an Action Plan to hasten our departure from animal-based science is in all our interests.”
According to opinion polls, EU citizens want to end animal experiments. Nearly three quarters (72%) say that the EU should set deadlines to phase out testing on animals.
Recently launched European Citizens’ Initiative Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing, has received more than 119,000 signatures in less than three weeks.
The latest EU Parliament vote is not legally binding but the European Commission has three months to respond to it and act.
“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 reducing significantly the use of animals in science.” - said Tilly Metz (Greens/EFA, LU) – Chairwoman of the Animals in Science Working Group of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals.
Commenting on the vote, Anja Hazekamp MEP (The Left, NL),Chairwoman of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, said: “This action plan is a win-win situation for humans, other animals, and the environment and it is imperative that it is led from the top in the Commission – Animal testing is relevant to so many different areas of the Commission’s responsibilities and a coordinated approach to reducing and replacing is essential. Delivering safety and sustainability without animal testing will help deliver the goals of EU Green Deal which is led by Vice-President Frans Timmermans.”
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