The use of animals in research, notably but not exclusively for the development of treatments in human medicine, has proved indispensable. Although in vitro testing and other computational modelling methods are being developed – they already exist and are efficient in some cases – but, for the time being and for a foreseeable future, they do not constitute a real alternative for the replacement of animal experimentation.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Stop vivisection now calls for the banning of all animal experimentation in the EU. As a grass-root scientific organization, EuroScience welcomes all opportunities for public debate and supports the participation of citizens in the development of policies for research. EuroScience, however, wants to point out that this topic has been under consideration for the past 30 or more years and has been debated in the very recent past.
In the EU the use of animals for scientific purposes is regulated by Directive 2010/63/EU, which was adopted in September 2010 and sets amongst the most stringent ethical and welfare standards worldwide. This legal framework includes the requirement for methods allowing for the replacement of the use of animals when possible, the reduction of the number of animals used, and the refinement of experimental methods involving animals – the 3Rs. The directive is the result of long discussions and has taken into consideration the input of all parties. EuroScience does not believe it appropriate to reopen the legislative debate on the use of animals in research for the time being and calls on the European Institutions, chiefly the Commission and the Parliament, to continue supporting Directive 2010/63/EU. Furthermore, the Directive itself is based on the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes (ETS123) established as far back as 1986. The Convention applies in the wider Europe beyond the EU itself.
EuroScience supports the policy of 3Rs recognising that animal experimentation remains a key part of modern life sciences which has to be carried out with care, integrity and responsibility.