Each year in the EU nearly 12 million animals are experimented upon in the name of scientific research - but all that is set to change as stricter legislation on testing was passed today by the European Parliament. Among the sweeping reforms was an outright ban on the testing of our closest genetic cousins, great apes, as well as stronger restrictions on experiments involving all primates.According to a report from the AFP:
Members of the 27-nation bloc, who have two years to comply with the rules, also need "to ensure that whenever an alternative method is available, this is used instead of animal testing." And they must work at "reducing levels of pain inflicted on animals."
While the push for more humane treatment of animals tested for scientific research is a positive step forward, some who want the practice abolished entirely were disappointed by the limited scope of the legislation. ¨Animals will still be used as guinea pigs. They will still suffer pain,¨ said the Parliament´s Greens in a statement issued after the ruling.
Still, others see the new rules as ¨a good compromise on a difficult topic.¨
Stipulated in the legislation is a metric whereby pain inflicted on animals during testing will be categorized as ¨non-recovery, mild, moderate or severe.¨ Only animals enduring ¨moderate¨ suffering will be subjected to multiple tests. Also, primates will still be essential for tests involving treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease which require the use of animals most similar to humans.
Additionally, labs that perform testing on animals will be subject to government inspection, often unannounced, to ensure the rules are being followed.
Despite the positive step forward to reducing the pain and suffering felt by animals for the benefit of science, progress in combating human suffering still comes at a cost -- and the debate about whether it´s worth it or not is sure to continue well into the future.