By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson
This historic vote could lead to changes for the nearly 10 million animals used each year in European laboratories. unoL / iStock.com
On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling on the European Commission to draw up an action plan to phase out animal testing. This is a momentous political victory in a region where recent setbacks have taken place for laboratory animals.
At the top of the list of setbacks is the revelation that the European Chemicals Agency has ignored long-standing ban on animal testing for cosmetics by requiring additional animal data for dozens of cosmetic ingredients, which have already killed around 25,000 animals. Humane Society International’s short film “Save Ralph” helped raise awareness that the public has been misled about the European ban on cosmetics.
Many more animals can die in painful toxicity tests if the European Commission implements its chemicals strategy for sustainability towards a toxic-free environment, which, as proposed, would further strengthen the ‘checkbox’ approach of the EU in chemical risk assessment based primarily on animal testing. Parliament’s resolution rightly emphasizes that non-animal approaches based on human biology are the key to better assessing chemical safety. This is one of the reasons the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is committed to phasing out its animal testing requirements by 2035, and the Humane Cosmetics Act is getting stronger. magnitude in Congress.
The resolution in favor of an action plan to phase out animal testing was championed by HSI / Europe and other leading European animal welfare groups, scientists and companies. The overwhelming all-party support shown by Members of the European Parliament reflects the growing dismay at recent actions and proposals by the European Chemicals Agency and the European Commission.
The resolution is a strong statement that covers all uses of animals for research, testing and education, a sobering reminder of the nearly 10 million animals used in European laboratories each year. Almost 70% of these animals are used in biomedical research, an area where, according to statistics, little or no reduction has been achieved despite a 35-year-old legal requirement that animals should not be used when alternatives. are available. The continued use of animals as a first resort cannot be justified or allowed to persist in light of modern non-animal technologies such as human organ chips and next-generation computer models now available.
Recognizing that science has evolved, Parliament calls for deep systemic changes, noting that the phase-out of animal testing will require ‘preferential funding for non-animal methods in all EU research and innovation initiatives’, training scientists in new approaches and start-up support. companies offering and perfecting these methods.
Hasten it transition to human-centered approaches health research and testing is in the best interests of all of us. MEPs should be applauded for their vision and leadership, and other nations are encouraged to follow suit.
Now we need public voices to join our call to ensure that the European Commission listens and proposes an ambitious and saving action plan.
Sara Amundson is President of the Legislative Fund of The Humane Society.