MEPs under fire for vivisection law betrayal
Most MEPs stand accused of ‘looking the other way’ while a draft law on animal experiments is being stitched up by Government and industry behind closed doors.
67 of the 72 UK MEPs have accepted the compromise text that emerged from the last EU ‘trialogue’ meeting on 7th December 2009, led by German Christian Democrat MEP Elisabeth Jeggle. However, a number of highly significant changes have been introduced into this text which are deeply at odds with MEPs’ voting on the ‘first reading’ in the European Parliament in May 2009. Only the Green grouping has publicly rejected the proposal. 
Furthermore, the new clauses relating to national laws and alternatives would render the new Directive even weaker than the minimal 86/609 Directive it was intended to improve upon. The compromise text contains proposals which are completely out of step with public opinion.
Stricter National Measures: With the addition of Article 2.7 and deletion of Article 6A passed on 1st Reading, the compromise text now prevents national governments from introducing new measures that would provide greater democratic oversight and protection for animal welfare that those contained in the Directive.  This is a major threat to national sovereignty on a matter of enormous public interest. The public’s wishes have already been largely ignored in the revision process and this measure would essentially insulate animal experiments from democratic accountability for a generation. It would also obstruct attempts to update the regulation of animal research in line with ethical and scientific progress. Far from promoting the raising of standards, in this instance the EU would be guilty of blocking progressive measures.
Alternatives Clauses: The new compromise text  has fundamentally weakened what has been a cornerstone of UK and EU legislation for a generation - the requirement that animal tests must not be permitted if there is an existing scientifically approved alternative methods. The new text would delay and hinder the development and implementation of alternatives to animal tests. Consequently animals will continue to suffer and die in unnecessary experiments.
Replacing Primate Experiments: The new text has also weakened incentives to replace the use of primates in experiments.  In particular, it has removed the requirement  for biennial reviews of ethical and scientific issues relating to the use of primates in experiments, with a view to setting targets for replacing experiments on these animals.
These retrograde steps undermine important, common-sense mechanisms that reflect a broad consensus on questions of democratic accountability, the moral imperative to avoid unnecessary suffering, and the need to stimulate alternative research methods that can provide more reliable information.
Uncaged and other animal protection groups are urging MEPs to stick to their principles and formally report their dissatisfaction with these changes to the 1st Reading text ahead of a crucial meeting later this month. This is essential to salvage a Directive that has any progressive and humane elements and fosters improvements in scientific research and animal protection.
Uncaged’s Campaigns Director Dr Dan Lyons comments:
‘We have a very small window of opportunity now to block some truly appalling clauses in the new Directive. But the responses forwarded by our supporters make us very concerned that many MEPs are failing to read their constituents’ letters, as they often fail to deal with the specific issue raised or else are months out of date and irrelevant.’
Please contact your MEP now urgently to ask them to campaign for their political grouping to formally reject the compromise text agreed on 7th December 2009 and rollback these destructive changes in the draft Directive. You can use this news article as the basis for your letter.
- With the addition of Article 2.7 and deletion of Article 6A passed on 1st Reading.
- See Article 4.1 and Article 13.1.
- Article 8 as passed at First Reading.
- Amendment 59, new para 2 a (First Reading).
Uncaged Campaigns 12.01.10