Thursday, 29 May 2008 12:00 AM
Dr Jane Goodall DBE joins the Dr Hadwen Trust at European Parliament to call for animal experiments to be replaced, and proposes a Nobel Prize in ethical alternatives
World renowned bioethicist and primatologist Dr Jane Goodall DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger Of Peace, has made a rare visit to the European Parliament this week, to urge MEPs to support a strategy to replace animal experiments. Her call comes as the European Commission prepares to publish draft legislation to update the EU's animal experiments directive (Directive 86/609 EEC). The existing law is out of date (over 20 years old), with hundreds of thousands of animals currently receiving no protection at all.
Dr Goodall was joined by biomedical researchers, MEPs and animal protectionists at a Replace Animal Experiments in Europe event in Brussels. Event organisers, the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research and the Humane Society International (HSI), are spearheading a campaign to accelerate European efforts to replace animal experiments with more ethical and reliable methods. Together we are calling for Europe to establish a world-leading Centre of Excellence in non-animal research to speed up the development of new techniques. The event was jointly organised with the Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament.
The European Commission has been promising to update the animal experiments directive for years, with publication of the legislative proposal originally expected in 2007. However, delays threaten to prevent Commission adoption before the autumn. Further delay is simply unacceptable, say the Dr Hadwen Trust and HSI.
"This is a key moment in the history of Europe's responsibilities towards animals" says Dr Gill Langley of the Dr Hadwen Trust "Urgent action is needed to improve the protection of animals and to replace unethical and out-dated animal experiments with non-animal techniques. The revision of this Directive offers us the ideal opportunity to enable Europe to lead the world in humane science. These techniques are more advanced and relevant to human patients, so it is for the benefit of animals and people alike that Europe should focus on a strategy to move away from the era of animal research and hasten the new era of modern science without animal suffering."
Dr Goodall presented a 150,000 signature petition to Michael Cashman MEP, first Vice Chair of the EU Petitions Committee. The petition was submitted on behalf of EU citizens supporting a non-animal test strategy, across the United Kingdom, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Spain.
"We should admit that the infliction of suffering on beings who are capable of feeling is ethically problematic," says Dr Jane Goodall, "and that the amazing human brain should set to work to find new ways of testing and experimenting that will not involve the use of live, sentient beings. The scientific establishment should actively encourage such research. More funding should be made available for it. And rewards - such as a Nobel Prize - should be given for it. It is a goal worthy of great energy and scientific ingenuity. It is a goal towards which all civilized nations should be moving."
The event was supported by: Jens Holm MEP, Chris Davies MEP, John Bowis MEP, Caroline Lucas MEP and Dan Jorgensen MEP.
Click here to read Towards a European Science Without Animal Experiments - a new report by the Dr Hadwen Trust and Humane Society International.