New European regulations on animal testing have come into force in the UK this week after being debated in Parliament last month. Since European Directive 2010/63/EU was passed by the European Parliament in 2010 the BUAV has been calling for a ban on the most severe experiments permitted by the Directive and for more openness to be introduced into the UK system. Regrettably the Government has failed to act on either issue.
The failure to ban the most severe experiments means that animals could be subjected to repeated electric shock treatment to induce ‘learned helplessness’ or be forced to carry out physical activity until they suffer from exhaustion.
The BUAV strenuously called for reform to Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 which enables details of animal experiments to remain secret. The Government had previously said that Section 24 was incompatible with the new Directive, but opted not to make any changes before a separate consultation, which is expected in the coming weeks.
It was initially feared that a ban on the use of stray cats and dogs in experiments would be removed by the new regulations, but after a campaign by the BUAV which was supported by over 100 MPs from all political parties the Government was forced to include a full ban in the new legislation.
The BUAV will continue to press the Government to ensure that the new regulations improve the plight of animals in laboratories including in the upcoming debate on transparency.