Animal research Directive risks failure warns Committee

10 November 2009

The House of Lords EU Committee has carried out an inquiry into the proposed revision of the EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. In its report, published today, the Committee warns that the revised Directive will fail to meet its objectives unless there are effective safeguards to ensure that its requirements are implemented consistently across all EU Member States.

The Committee sees in the proposed revision a much-needed opportunity to remedy the current, widely varying application of the existing Directive across Member States.

Commenting on the report, Lord Sewel, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Environment and Agriculture, said:

"We are concerned that the proposal fails to deliver the key objective of ensuring that welfare measures for animals used in scientific procedures are applied consistently across the EU. The justification for having a new Directive was the inconsistent implementation of existing requirements. It is disappointing that, as the Commission’s original proposal has progressed, the drive towards common standards has faltered.

"We see a real risk that the new system will be no better than the existing one, with its wide variations in standards observed."

In principle, the Committee supports the Commission’s objectives in proposing to revise the existing Directive: strengthening animal welfare, and ensuring a level playing-field for EU companies and research institutions. The Committee agrees that there is a need to place tighter limits on the use of non-human primates (such as macaques and marmosets) in research than on the use of other species. It also supports higher standards for the care and accommodation of animals used, although it sees a case for extending the timescale for achieving the standards in some cases.

However, the Committee sees it as critical that there are effective arrangements for national inspection by Member States of sites where animals are used in scientific procedures. To ensure that common standards are being applied, the Committee is in favour of the Commission playing a robust role in monitoring implementation of the Directive.

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