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EU proposals to reduce animal testing

August 17, 2010 6:00 AM

The Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament has approved plans to reduce the number of animals used in scientific experiments. These plans are expected to be endorsed by the European Parliament and the European Council in September.

The draft rules aim to strike a balance between improving animal welfare and assisting research against diseases. They would require national authorities to assess the animal welfare implications of each experiment done, with a view to promoting alternative testing methods, reducing the levels of pain inflicted on animals and avoiding the excessive re-use of animals in experiments.

The new legislation would also tighten up rules on the use of primates in scientific experiments by classifying tests according to severity and specifying the inspections necessary to ensure compliance.

Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson said: "A great deal has been done at the EU level to protect animal welfare, and these rules represent another step forward. A great many animals will be spared a great deal of suffering as a result of this new legislation."

The approved text represents a deal reached by MEPs and member states; it will come into force three years after any approval.