The European Commission has rejected the Stop Vivisection initiative, which had collected over a million signatures from all European countries to demand the end of animal testing in Europe.
The initiative had the aim to question the role and utility of animal testing for human medicines and proposed a ban on tests to support alternative research, such as cell and tissue cultures and computational methods. The petition was supported by the Green Party and other left political forces.
Despite the 1.6 million signatures supporting the motion, the European Commission said that so far animal testing remains essential to medical research, as “many complex physiological and toxicological processes and effects cannot yet be adequately modelled or assessed by alternatives”.
However, it stressed that it is determine to look into alternatives and make sure the practice is phased out eventually.
Vice-President of the commission Jyrki Katainen, said, “The ‘Stop Vivisection’ Citizens’ Initiative comes at a time of transition – thanks to major technological advances, Europe is reducing the use of animal testing. However, a complete ban on animal research in the EU would be premature and it would risk chasing out biomedical research from Europe.”
The decision was criticised by animal rights groups that put an enormous effort to promote the initiative.
Commenting on the rejection, Dr Julia Baines, science policy advisor for PETA UK, said, “We must engage in comprehensive, open debate, and genuine action towards legislative change that will end animal experimentation must be taken, in order to send a strong message to the rest of the world that Europe supports modern, human-relevant and ethical scientific research and values and respects the voices of its citizens.”
Photo: Understanding Animal Research via Flickr
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