Campaign: 12 million animals are used in experiments in European laboratories every year.
THE NEW EU DIRECTIVE ON THE USE OF ANIMALS IN EXPERIMENTS
Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used in experiments was revised in September 2010 after nearly two years of negotiations between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. It also follows a period of intense campaigning by the BUAV and our colleagues in the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments.
We saw this Directive as an opportunity to take steps towards the goal of ending all animal experiments – an objective that nearly everyone agrees is desirable, but which will not be achieved without concrete measures to achieve progress. We also saw risks that progress already made would slip back. Here is a summary of the situation so far:
The new Directive (2010/63/EU) does not include many of the important proposals advocated by the BUAV such as immediately phasing out the use of wild-caught animals, or strong restrictions on the use of non-human primates, or even a ban on the repeated use of animals in experiments.
However, a number of changes which the BUAV and our European allies campaigned for have been included. These will affect different countries to varying degrees, depending on how far their current legislation lags behind, but we are pleased to see that these minimum standards will become the norm. These improvements include:
INTEGRATING THE EU DIRECTIVE INTO UK LAW: OPPORTUNITIES AND DANGERS
Directive 2010/63/EU needs to be implemented into the national legislation (“transposed”) of each Member State by the November 2012 in order for the new measures to be effective from 1 January 2013. The BUAV is working closely with other ECEAE Member groups to maximise improvements to national legislation in other EU countries.
Here in the UK, the Home Office has launched a public consultation up to 5th of September 2011 as part of the transposition process. Some British provisions are stricter than the Directive while others are less stringent. Levelling down current higher UK standards would be inconsistent with the Coalition Government pledge to “work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research”.
Among other priorities, the BUAV urges the Government to make it clear that animals should not be used in experiments causing severe and long-lasting suffering and pain, and that there should be tighter restrictions on the use of non-human primates.
The BUAV is very concerned that the UK consultation suggests that the Directive offers the opportunity to reduce inspections by up to 90% and replace them by self-monitoring and the occasional formal, pre-announced audit. We urge the Government to increase the number, frequency and quality of inspections of laboratories: the dangers of inadequate supervision are evident, and seen in the case of Wickham Laboratories.
Member States have a choice of instruments to achieve the objectives of the Directive. For example, in order to achieve improved public accountability and scrutiny, the Home Office could repeal Section 24 of the ASPA to facilitate transparency, while safeguarding personal and commercial confidential information. The BUAV has campaigned for Section 24 to be repealed for years and the transposition of the Directive is the perfect opportunity to do so.
More information on how you can get involved in the BUAV campaign will be posted on our website soon.