Animal experimentation is presented to the public as an ongoing debate between research scientists on one hand, and the animal protection community on the other. An opportunity to break out of this mindset presented itself in the form of a European Citizens' Initiative, Stop Vivisection, which challenged Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of animals for scientific purposes. The manifesto of the initiative called upon the European Commission to replace the existing Directive with a new proposal that does away with animal experimentation, and instead makes compulsory the use of human data as a predictive modality for the study of human diseases and responses to drugs. Although the Initiative succeeded in gathering the required one million signatures, the European Commission ultimately rejected the proposal. However, some of the lessons learned from the Initiative may well be relevant to the revision of Directive 2010/63/EU, due to take place by 2017.
Elliot Lilley, Penny Hawkins and Maggy Jennings
Ending severe suffering is a desirable goal for both ethical and scientific reasons. The RSPCA has pledged to work toward the end of such suffering for laboratory animals, and in this article we outline a practical approach that establishments can follow to achieve this aim.
The delivery of the UK Government's and Concordat's commitments to greater openness on animal research is eagerly awaited. Meanwhile, the questions raised by two studies on the use of animal tests to predict the toxic effects of drugs in humans should be answered. Procedures applied to protected laboratory animals, which may cause them pain, suffering, distress and or lasting harm, are only morally acceptable, and should only be legally permissible, if they are scientifically justifiable.