The Academy of Medical Sciences has signed a pan-European statement opposing the ‘Stop Vivisection’ European Citizens’ Initiative and supporting the European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The Initiative, submitted to the European Commission on 04 March 2015, seeks to abrogate the EU Directive on animals and calls for a new proposal to replace all animal research.
The statement signed by the Academy highlights how research using animals has facilitated major breakthroughs in medicine, which have transformed human and animal health. Research using animals remains a necessary part of scientific efforts to understand biology and disease, and to develop safe and effective novel therapeutics. The statement stresses that the Directive was shaped by consultation with animal welfare groups, scientists and animal technologists and that, importantly, it embeds into EU legislation the requirement to consider the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) when undertaking research using animals.
Under the Directive, animals can only be used in research when there is no viable alternative method and if the potential medical, veterinary and scientific benefits are compelling. The Directive ensures that high standards of welfare are achieved consistently across the EU and the statement notes concern that repealing the Directive would represent a major step backwards both for animal welfare in the EU and for Europe’s leading role in advancing human and animal health.
We fully support the use of alternative methods where viable options exist and it is vital that the scientific community drives forward further developments. However, researchers are not able to fully replace the use of animals at the present time as there are diseases where research relies on understanding how the whole organism interacts. .
European Citizens’ Initiatives allow citizens to call on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal if they can gather at least one million signatures from citizens from across at least 25% of EU member states. The ‘Stop Vivisection’ initiative calls on the Commission to “abrogate directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and to present a new proposal that does away with animal experimentation and instead makes compulsory the use - in biomedical and toxicological research - of data directly relevant for the human species”.
The statement is available to download on the right-hand side of this page.
The Academy’s European network, FEAM (the Federation of European Academies of Medicine), supported a meeting on this issue, Understanding research using animals and the alternatives, at the European Parliament on 20 January 2015. The event, hosted by Vicky Ford MEP and Cristian Busoi MEP, explored the reasons for using animals in medical and veterinary research, and the importance of the 3Rs and their application. A report of the meeting is available to download on the right-hand side of this page.
For more information, please visit our policy project page.