22nd December 2015
Austria failing to regulate animal experiments properly?
Move to stop ethically evaluating some animal tests is plainly wrong
We have raised concerns that the Austrian authorities are intending to regulate animal experiments in a way that is not in line with the new EU rules.
This month Austria published proposals for a ‘catalogue for the harm:benefit assessment’. This says that tests for regulators (typically toxicity tests) do not need to be ethically evaluated.
We have submitted a statement to the authorities that states that our very clear legal advice is that this is plainly wrong.
Article 36(2) of the EU Directive 2010/63/EC states:
‘Member States shall ensure that no project is carried out unless a favourable project evaluation by the competent authority has been received in accordance with Article 38’.
One of the requirements of Article 38 is that a project evaluation must include a harm:benefit analysis of the project. This is done ‘to assess whether the harm to the animals in terms of suffering, pain and distress is justified by the expected outcome taking into account ethical considerations and may ultimately benefit human beings, animals or the environment’.
So project evaluations are required for every project, and every evaluation must include a harm:benefit analysis.
We say that it would be absurd, if a project involving severe suffering to develop an inessential substance (say, one destined for a new washing-up liquid) did not have to undergo a harm:benefit analysis, whereas all other projects, including those investigating debilitating human diseases, did require a harm:benefit analysis. This would contradict the philosophy underpinning the legislation.
Whilst we oppose all animal experiments, we also seek in the meantime to ensure that governments properly implement the (inadequate) laws that are in place. We hope Austria will amend its draft regulation accordingly.