In this section you find out about legislation and animal use, as well as opinions of patient support group in policy-making on animal use.
1. European legislation
The legislation in place to protect the care and welfare of animals used in scientific research varies by country. Most countries have laws protecting the welfare of animals, and of these, many have specific laws governing the treatment of animals involved in scientific procedures. This legislation is in place to ensure that the cost of any scientific experiments, in terms of animal suffering, is balanced by the potential benefit of the research.
Information on regulations governing animal research in Europe can be found at the EBRA. Legislation is under constant review, and is frequently amended to offer further protection to animals when necessary.
2. Directive 86/609
Directive of 24 November 1986 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes (86/609/EEC).
The directive defines of the types of animals and procedures covered by the regulations and sets out a minimum set of regulatory controls on animal experimentation which includes the following requirements:
- Controls on the care and accommodation of laboratory animals, including detailed guidelines
- Avoiding distress and unnecessary pain and suffering to the experimental animals
- Not to use animals if alternatives are available
- To use anaesthesia wherever possible and appropriate
- To give advance notice to the appropriate authority about the experiments or the persons conducting the experiments
- That the people conducting the experiments and those caring for the animals have appropriate training
- That establishments carrying out experiments and establishments breeding or supplying laboratory animals should be registered or approved by the appropriate authority
- That a veterinarian or other competent person shall advise on the well-being of laboratory animals
- That the animals used shall be specifically bred for use in experiments, with exceptions for the lesser-used species.
- That records should be kept of the animals used and this information should be collected and reported to the european commission at regular intervals
3. Revision of European Directive on Laboratory Animals, August 2008
Directive 86/909 on the protection of animals used in research is currently being reviewed to reflect scientific and technological developments that have taken place over the last 20 years.
The draft Directive revision published in late 2008 includes a number of proposals that are of concern to not only the research community across Europe but also to patient support groups.
In a letter to European Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the president of European Genetic Alliance Network (EGAN), mr. Alastair Kent, expresses his concern regarding the reported provisions for genetically modified animals, and the restrictions on the use of great apes and non human primates that are proposed in the review of Directive 86/609.
Kent: "We would be opposed to any unnecessary barriers that may hinder or prevent desirable, ethically sound, high quality biomedical animal research to alleviate unmet medical diseases and improve the lives of millions of European patients".
Read the complete letter.