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EU OKs primate research

Research involving non-human primates was given the go-ahead today (May 5) in an initial vote by the European Parliament, although legislators called for most basic testing on great apes to be outlawed. Image: Understanding Animal ResearchThe new parliamentary directive "strikes a compromise between ensuring that research can continue in the EU and improving animal welfare," linkurl:Neil Parish,;http://www.neilparish.co.uk/ a Conservative Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the UK, sai

By | May 5, 2009

Research involving non-human primates was given the go-ahead today (May 5) in an initial vote by the European Parliament, although legislators called for most basic testing on great apes to be outlawed.
Image: Understanding Animal Research
The new parliamentary directive "strikes a compromise between ensuring that research can continue in the EU and improving animal welfare," linkurl:Neil Parish,;http://www.neilparish.co.uk/ a Conservative Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the UK, said in a statement. But critics say that some of the regulations impede research and don't actually improve animals' lives. The directive revises linkurl:draft legislation;http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/revision_en.htm introduced by the European Commission (EC) last November that called for a near-blanket ban on primate testing. The proposals to ease these recommended restrictions were endorsed by an agricultural committee on March 31 and passed today by an overwhelming majority, with 540 MEPs voting in favor, 66 opposed, and 34 abstentions. The directives still face a long parliamentary road ahead and will require backing by the EC and the EU's Council of Ministers. Today's report amending the EC legislation rejects calls from animal rights groups to ban basic research involving non-human primates. It does, however, forbid testing on great apes, except for experiments intended to help conserve these species. The report recommends phasing out wild-caught animals in favor of laboratory-bred animals over a 10-year period, and calls for an overall reduction in the number of primates involved in research. It also spells out categories of pain, with guidelines about when repeat testing is allowable and when prior authorizations are required for all animals. "There's considerable relief that many of the really difficult articles that were in the original version [of the legislation] have been tempered and amended to make them more sensible," linkurl:Roger Lemon,;http://www.ucl.ac.uk/neuroscience/Page.php?ID=12&ResearcherID=20 a University College London neuroscientist told __The Scientist__. Lemon also chairs the European Science Foundation's expert group on animal research, which published a linkurl:report in March;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55523/ urging many of the measures approved today. But Lemon argued that the directive's insistence on alternatives to animal testing could make the EU less competitive on a global scale. "Until there is international acceptance of alternative methods [to animal testing], not just in Europe but worldwide, scientists in Europe are going to be effectively handicapped," he said. "A very, very poor initial proposal from the Commission has been amended and substantially improved by the Parliament to redress the balance and to bring in good science and good animal welfare practices," linkurl:Simon Festing,;http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/homepage chief executive of Understanding Animal Research, a UK-based advocacy group, told __The Scientist__. Even so, he said, some of the proposed guidelines reflected a "political compromise that's still not really evidence based." Specifically, he noted that the directives cover some invertebrates that don't feel pain, as well as require compulsory data sharing -- which Festing described as "a great statement of intent but in practice it's not going happen." linkurl:Aisling Burnand,;http://www.bioindustry.org/cgi-bin/contents_view.pl?ID=153 chief executive of the BioIndustry Association, a trade group representing the UK's biotech sector, also noted that the mandatory animal cage sizes included in the report would hinder research and drive up costs without actually benefiting animal welfare. "The report's view of research represents a balanced proposal that considers both animal welfare and research needs, however further modifications are still required," he said in a statement. Final approval of the proposed legislation is not expected until later in the year -- after the linkurl:European parliamentary elections;http://www.europarl.europa.eu/elections2009/default.htm scheduled for June 4-7.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:EU animal research under fire;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55523/
[25th March 2009]*linkurl:EU proposes great ape research ban;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55169/
[5th November 2008]*linkurl:The war on animal research;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54494/
[April 2008]
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 8

May 5, 2009

If there's one thing that animal researchers, animal welfare advocates, and animal rights activists can agree on, it's the need to find alternatives to animal testing. Check out the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at http://caat.jhsph.edu.\n\nI don't know how applicable their efforts are to primate research, but can only hope that they are working toward that goal.
Avatar of: Sarah Kite

Sarah Kite

Posts: 1

May 5, 2009

On behalf of The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, Europe?s leading voice on opposing the use of animals in research, I offer the following:\nThe EU 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. In fact the Parliament has significantly weakened the already inadequate proposals of the European Commission to revise the 23 year old law. If the Parliament gets its way:\n- Researchers could be allowed to\n ? cause animals suffering which is both severe and prolonged, an obscenity in a civilised society\n ? repeatedly use the same animal in painful experiments\n ? use non-human primates for just about any purpose, not simply life-threatening or debilitating diseases as the Commission proposed\n ? in effect to determine for which experiments they need governmental permission, by deciding how to categorise the likely suffering\n ? not have to carry out retrospective assessments of experiments ? whether from the animal welfare or scientific point of view ? in the vast majority of cases\n- There will be no incentive to stop the capture of primates in the wild, which causes them immense distress, for breeding for research\n- There will be no strategy to bring forward the day when animal experiments no longer take place, as everyone claims they want

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Mettler Toledo
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences