The consultation closed on 5 September. OneKind has now handed in the petition to the UK government. Thank you for taking an interest in this crucial campaign to protect animals in UK laboratories.
OneKind seeks an end to the use of all animals in experiments, and their replacement with humane non-animal methods. This should happen as soon as possible. As long as any animals are used in experiments, every procedure must be scrutinised carefully and authorisation for animal use only given if it can be demonstrated that it will genuinely provide a benefit for human health and after careful consideration of the harm it will do to the animals. Governments must be pro-active in ensuring that, where non-animal methods are available, they are always used. The use of animals such as primates and wild-caught animals should be phased out entirely, starting immediately.
A new Directive regulating the use of animals in experiments throughout the EU was agreed in October 2010. All 27 EU member states must implement this law by 1 January 2013.
For many European states, the new Directive represents a step forward in protecting animals in laboratories. For example, all scientific use of animals is now subject to legal control, and all research establishments and projects are subject to basic licensing regimes. The 3Rs – replacement, reduction and refinement – must be implemented, and projects assessed to determine whether the use of animals is necessary and justified.
But in many areas, the standards of the Directive are lower than those that currently apply in the UK under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). Much-needed restrictions on primate use did not make their way into the Directive, and there is too little emphasis on replacing animal tests with humane alternatives. The Annex setting out approved methods of killing animals falls far short of UK standards: for example, very young puppies and kittens could be killed by a blow to the head, and an adult bird the size of a sparrow could be decapitated.
The Directive specifically allows member states to retain pre-existing higher standards. If, when the UK Government implements the new law, it simply “copies out” the Directive, it will immediately lower the standards that have applied here for a quarter of a century. And if it does this by means of regulations to amend the ASPA, rather than introducing new primary legislation, UK citizens will have much less opportunity to influence the policy and process.
On an EU basis, the only way to guarantee improved animal welfare is to ensure that member states put in place consistent, effective mechanisms to implement and control the new protective measures. On a domestic basis, the UK Government must take a progressive approach when transposing the Directive into UK law.
The options being considered by the UK Government are subject to a current public consultation which will run for 12 weeks. OneKind will be responding to the consultation asking it, among other things, to:
- Maintain the UK’s existing stricter animal protection provisions
- Reduce the use of primates in UK Laboratories
- Phase out the use of wild-caught primates by suppliers
- Limit the severity of animal suffering
- Increase transparency for public accountability and wider scientific scrutiny
- Increase data sharing to prevent unnecessary experiments
- Create a UK laboratory for the validation and implementation of alternatives
- Use thematic review to identify areas of research for replacement
- Ensure the effective implementation of non-animal methods.
OneKind is working with other animal welfare groups in the UK to ensure that the review of domestic law offers positive progress for animals, preserves those aspects of the law that are better in the UK than in other member states, and ensures a modern approach to promoting and protecting human health.
We will press the UK Government to commit to replacing animal experiments during implementation of the directive.
To learn more about these issues, see the joint animal protection groups’ pre-consultation submission to the UK government below.
Joint submission to UK government
OneKind has been working with other animal welfare groups to influence the UK Government to maintain the standards currently provided under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and not to lower standards to those of the new Directive.