The European Parliament has discussed the future of animal experiments, in response to a 1.2 million signature petition calling for existing laws to be scrapped. A recommendation will now be passed to the European Commission to debate the topic more fully.
The petition was organised by the Italian-based Stop Vivisection citizens’ initiative. It pointed out to the Parliament that new, alternative methods were subject to strict validation controls, even though existing animal models have never had to meet similar standards.
A number of scientists addressed a meeting on Monday, explaining that animal tests frequently do not predict human results and therefore do not guarantee safety of new drugs or other products. New systems and strategies were necessary to overcome the 95% late stage drug development failure rate and to drive progress to more effective testing methods.
They called for an in-depth scientific discussion on the topic with a view to finding a new strategy to promote non-animal methods and to make them compulsory, wherever applicable.
They questioned whether the existing European Directive 2010/63/EU actually hinders the development and implementation of non-animal methods.
One of the speakers, consultant and campaigner Andre Menache, said: “Animal testing isn’t a necessary evil – we can take away the ‘necessary’ because we have the technology – all that’s left is the evil. Public opinion will not tolerate the evil.”
After the debate, Chair Czesław Siekierski called the petition a ‘very important initiative’ and said the meeting would recommend to the European Commission and parliamentary committees that the proposed discussion should take place.
A full recording of the debate can be found on the EU website at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20150507IPR53142/html/AGRI-ENVI-ITRE-PETI-11052015-15.00-18.30