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Pressure’s on to reduce animal testing in the EU

Parliament votes to accelerate transition to nonanimal methods for health and safety science

by Britt E. Erickson
September 23, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 35


The European Commission faces increased pressure to phase out the use of animals in scientific research and toxicity testing and to boost funding for alternative methods, such as cell-culture systems.

In a vote of 667–4, members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution Sept. 16 “to accelerate the transition to innovation without the use of animals in research, regulatory testing and education.” The nonbinding resolution calls on the commission to develop an action plan with timelines and objectives to end animal testing for all scientific purposes. It also requests more funding and training to support the development and validation of human cell–based tests and other nonanimal methods through the European Union’s Horizon Europe program.

Animal protection groups welcomed the vote, saying it set a precedent. “This vote signals the need for systemic change in the EU’s approach to safety science and health research, with Parliament embracing an historic opportunity to take animal suffering out of the equation and shift the focus to modern, human relevant technologies,” Troy Seidle, vice president for research and toxicology at Humane Society International, says in a statement.

The resolution acknowledges that animal tests are still needed in some cases to better understand certain diseases and to develop safe vaccines for emerging pathogens in humans. But in such cases, it says, tests should minimize animals’ pain and suffering.

Current EU law requires scientists to meet certain standards for animal care. It also prohibits the use of animal testing for cosmetics.



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