Experiments using chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas have been banned by the European Union. The EU has 27 nations as members and they have two years to comply with the new regulations, which also call for reducing the amount of pain for all animals used for testing. The new legislation does still allow some animal testing.
A report from May, 2010 states the European Union had been using about 10,000 primates each year for testing. At this point, it is not exactly clear how much those numbers will decrease due to the new restrictive legislations. Austria had already been moving towards their own ban on primate research. “Great apes are the animals that are most closely related to humans. It is of particular concern for me that there is this explicit prohibition. This will ensure that no such animal experiments will be carried out in the future either,” said Austria’s Education, Science and Culture Minister Elisabeth Gehrer. (Source: Cordis.europa.eu)
Reportedly Sweden and the Netherlands had already introduced such legislation, or were working towards it. The number of all animals used for medical testing in the EU is 12 million. (Source: Google News)
Testing on some monkeys like macaques and marmosets in the EU will be allowed for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. These species are not supposed to be used unless other options for research have been explored first, and they are the only alternative.
The new legislation also attempts to define pain levels in the animal research subjects. Mild, moderate, severe and non-recovery are the levels. It was proposed that animals that have been subject to severe pain should not be experimented on again, and that only animals that have suffered mild pain can be used for additional tests. However, according to reports, Members of European Parliament felt the proposal may result in even more animals being used for tests. They agreed to allow the re-use of animals, even those that endured tests with “moderate” pain, as long as a vet is consulted first.
Image Credit: Mathew Hoelscher