Increased Protections for Lab Animals in Europe

Posted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on September 20, 2010

European Union passes “Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes” law, providing for better lab animal welfare

On Wednesday, September 8th, the European Parliament passed new legislation to reduce the number of animals used for research testing by laboratories. The new law replaces a 25-year-old EU Directive, which allowed countries to use over 12 million animals in EU scientific labs every year. The European Parliament, in conjunction with the European Council, now requires national authorities to approve, search for, and use alternate research methods, and to reduce the pain animals will endure during testing. The new law now limits the use of primates in most scientific testing. 

There are some exceptions, including a small number of ouistitis and macaques monkeys that will still be used in labs because of the argument that they are needed to research new drugs for neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Some compromise was no doubt necessary in order to appease those who felt that “successful scientific research” could be “impeded” by a law that was too restrictive. The new law, however, strictly bans the use of other primates, such as chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans.

Animal rights groups around the world have praised the new restrictions, especially lauding the increase in protections in countries where only minimal animal welfare guidelines previously existed.