Research organisations express concerns about request to immediately phase out animal testing

In advance of the upcoming hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative: ‘Save cruelty-free cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without animal testing’ in the European Parliament on 25 May 2023, EU-LIFE and LERU express their concerns about the initiative’s request to commit to a legislative proposal to phase out all animal testing in Europe by June 2024 and lay out their position in a joint statement issued today.

“We are concerned about the unintended effects of a legislative proposal to phase out animal research within this legislature, as it is not realistic given the crucial role it has for biomedical and veterinary research. This citizens’ initiative shows how important it is to broaden the debate and engagement of citizens in why and how animal research is needed. We will continue the efforts to reduce animal research, for which we believe the current EC Directive for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes is fit for purpose”,

said Marta Agostinho, Executive Director of EU-LIFE.

“We as research organizations contribute to the development of non-animal methods and use such methods where it is scientifically sound to do so. But a phase out of animal testing altogether would have detrimental consequences for biomedical research and the development of new medicinal products. Animal testing is still important, and this was clearly shown again in our rapid joint response to the Covid pandemic”,

said René Custers, VIB Regulatory & Responsible Research Manager and member of the EU-LIFE Animal Research Task Force.

During the past decades, our member organisations have been at the forefront of the implementation of ethical policies on animal research and the development of alternative methods to the use of animals for regulatory and research purposes. In fact, there have been significant advances in New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) in the last decade, such as 3D-cell or organoid culture.

However, the existing alternatives are still not capable of capturing the complexity that is required to study pathologies related to the immune system, neurological disorders or microbiome, for example. The efforts to replace animal use in research need to keep pace with the development of new technologies, which will only happen with sustained and generous funding.

We call other stakeholder organisations to join our appeal. To endorse the statement, please contact Marta Agostinho, EU-LIFE Executive Director, at marta.agostinho@eu-life.eu

To read the full statement, please click here.