A European agreement to strengthen rules on animal testing, which have been unchanged since 1986, has been labelled as a missed opportunity by Labour’s Euro-MPs.
In a vote earlier today a package of measures were approved to minimise the exposure of animals to unnecessary suffering while giving scientists the freedom to carry out vital experiments.
However, West Midlands Labour MEP Michael Cashman, believes the agreement could have gone further without jeopardising life-saving research. He said: “We have waited almost a quarter of a century for new rules on animal experiments, so it is disappointing that the agreement is not more ambitious.”
Although the revised directive will bring other EU countries in line with the higher standards used in the UK, key provisions that would have firmly committed Europe to the reduction and replacement of the use of animals in experiments are missing from the revised legislation.
Labour MEPs had hoped that the agreement would include a procedure to regularly review the use of animals in procedures, so that rules would keep step with developments in technological and scientific knowledge. They are also concerned that the directive may make it harder for countries to adopt stronger rules to avoid the unnecessary suffering of animals.
Cashman added: “This revised directive has been in a long time coming and there is no doubt that it will improve the quality of many animals across Europe, whilst enabling research into new medicines and diseases.
“But these new rules should have gone further. I believe that the majority of people in Britain want to see animal testing reduced to a bare minimum. That’s why Labour wanted the revised directive to include clear mechanisms to ensure that replacements for animal experiments were rapidly introduced.
“Sadly, that didn’t happen and in that respect these rules represent a missed opportunity.”