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S&Ds: Animal research is still vital for human health but we must accelerate its phase-out


16 Sep 2021


Science & Policymaking

Phasing out the use of animals in research is already underway, but progress is slow. This is the key message of today’s resolution on ´plans and actions to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education´.

No one wants to see animals used in labs, even for scientific purposes, but we know that in the past animal-based research has contributed significantly to advances in the treatment of many human health conditions.

Technological advances in science are providing many more options for testing, whether on specific diseases or for toxicities. However, non-animal methods are not yet available across all scientific research areas, so in some cases, animal experiments are still needed until more non-animal tests become available.

Our resolution insists that where non-animal models for testing are available, they must be used. We therefore call on the Commission to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education, reiterating the ultimate goal of phasing out animal testing.

The S&D vice-president responsible for the environment and agriculture committees, Mohammed Chahim MEP, said:

"The Commission´s action plan to phase out animal-based research has to include ambitious and achievable objectives, and concrete timelines for absolute and sustained reductions in the number of animals used across the EU for scientific purposes. If non-animal methods are not available in a certain field, experiments with animals should only take place in strictly optimal conditions, minimising pain, distress and suffering, and with respect for the welfare of the animals concerned.

"We know that medications that appear safe and effective in animal studies can fail in humans, but there are also drugs that would help humans but are discarded because they fail in tests on animals. Other testing methods, without the use of animals, are often available and could produce results that are more reliable for human use."