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article imageEurope rejects animal testing ban

By Tim Sandle     Jun 12, 2015 in Science
The European Commission, composed of the nations of Europe, has rejected a call to ban all animal experimentation throughout the European Union. This decision came in response to a pan-European campaign.
The move to block all animal experimentation for scientific research came from a campaign group called Stop Vivisection. The new organization had collected 1.1 million signatures, calling on for an outright ban throughout the European Union.
The focal point was a directive, issued in 2010, by the European Commission, which permitted animal experimentation by legitimate scientific organizations, provided that certain criteria were met and that periodic inspections took place by animal welfare officials. In 2011, for the latest available data, around 11.5 million animal experiments were conducted across Europe.
Unlike some other regions in the world, cosmetics cannot be tested on animals in Europe, so the call came in for an all-out ban related to scientific experiments only (such as into new candidate drugs.) Opponents to such testing argue studies can be conducted using cells in a test tube; many scientists argue the properties of a drug can only be fully realized in a mammal that has a similar response mechanism to a human.
In an official statement, the European Commission said: "for the time being, animal experimentation remains important for protecting human and animal health, and for maintaining an intact environment.
"While working towards the ultimate goal of full replacement of animals, Directive 2010/63/EU is an indispensable tool at the EU level to protect those animals still required. The Directive implements the Three Rs - to replace, reduce and refine animal use in Europe."
The decision was not welcomed by animal rights organizations. Nick Palmer, from the U.K. anti-vivisection group Cruelty Free International, had a particular comment to make about his home country, noting that Britain: "is one of the largest users of animals in research in Europe and the UK is particularly secretive."
The view of scientists was generally positive. Here Dr Mark Downs of the Society of Biology stated: "We welcome the European Commission's decision not to repeal the Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The Directive was implemented in 2013 following years of careful and broad consultation to design a legislative system that would raise and harmonize welfare standards."
More about Animal testing, animal experiments, Animals, Science, Vivisection