EU Animal Experimentation Vote Welcomed

05 May 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Tuesday) hailed a vote of the European Parliament which will bring in tough new standards across the EU regulating the use of animals in medical experimentation.

The MEP, Scotland's only full member of the Agriculture Committee, worked closely with the biomedical research community in Scotland as well as animal welfare groups to achieve a workable compromise, which passed today by 540 votes in favour to 34 against.

Smith was particularly pleased to see that his amendment 122 was passed - this makes the "3Rs" (Reduction of animal use; Replacement with non-animal alternatives; and Refinement of techniques to minimise distress) core principles of the use of animals in research across the EU.

Smith has also released a breakdown of the key points of the package and the vote.

Speaking after the vote, Smith said:

"This is a hugely complex and emotive topic, and I like all MEPs have been inundated by people contacting me on this dossier, on all sides of the debate. I believe that this compromise is workable and does strike the balance necessary between animal welfare and the advancement of the fight against human and animal disease.

"On the key dilemma of whether we should use animals at all, I decided on balance that we do need to use the data from animal experimentation, and while we should attach strict conditions to their use, we should not have a total ban as some wanted. I am heartened that my amendments on the 3Rs, and on the establishment in each member state of a centre to promote the use of non-animal alternatives were successful, and this should boost the research into and use of non-animal alternatives.

"I was saddened that amendments to ban the use of great apes altogether were not successful - Scottish and British scientists have long been unable to use great apes, and I hoped that the rest of the EU would follow our lead."