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European Parliament Votes on New Animal Testing Provisions

May 5, 2009

The European Parliament on Tuesday voted in support of a limit on the level of pain inflicted on animals during testing in addition to supporting added efforts to develop non-animal alternatives.

The proposals still face approval from the EU’s 27 nations, but animal rights groups have already been outspoken in their criticism of the decision which represents weakening of an EU executive Commission proposal last year to improve the welfare of 12 million vertebrae animals used in experiments.

About half of the 12 million animals are used for drug testing and development, while one third is used for biology studies and the remainder for cosmetics and disease diagnosis, according to Reuters.

The Commission had discussed reducing the amount of experiments using 12,000 primates each year.

“We all want to see animal tests reduced. However, European citizens quite rightly demand the best and most effective medicines”, said Neil Parish of the European Parliament.

“The Parliament report makes it clear exactly when testing on animals should be allowed and under what circumstances. It strikes a compromise between ensuring that research can continue in the EU and improving animal welfare”, he added.

The members of the European Parliament endorsed a ban on the use of great apes that are at risk of becoming extinct, apart from experiments aimed at conserving these species.

“However, some aspects of the proposal, which would drastically restrict the use of primates such as ouistitis and macaques, could penalise European research to the advantage of its American or Asian competitors, which are less strict on animal welfare,” the EP said in a statement.
The members also called for a feasibility study to determine whether or not they would agree to a ban on capturing wild primates for lab use.
Many animal welfare groups have been outspoken in protest to the new provisions.

“The Parliament has produced a charter for the multibillion pound animal research industry to carry on business as usual, with scant regard either for animal welfare or public opinion,” said Michelle Thew of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

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