Proefdiervrij stresses importance of realistic transition to animal-free innovation


Proefdiervrij stresses importance of realistic transition to animal-free innovation

23 August 2023
On 25 July the European Commission responded to the European Citizens' Initiative "Save cruelty-free cosmetics". Their response caused much controversy, in particular from a fear of the consequences of an abrupt ban on animal testing. As far as Proefdiervrij is concerned, these fears are unfounded.

"There has never been a call for an abrupt ban, but for a transition based on science. And that benefits everyone," stresses Debby Weijers, director of Proefdiervrij. "Let's not point the finger at each other and risk the European Commission side-lining this important issue - let's join forces instead!"

Science is leading

To clarify: Proefdiervrij will always endorse that reliable biomedical research is necessary, but will also stress that this research should be done ethically, i.e. without the use of animals. The strategy is to achieve an animal-free world therefore focuses on stimulating animal-free and humane innovation.

The call to the European Commission is not a request for an abrupt ban on the use of laboratory animals, but a request to draw up a realistic and science-based plan that encourages the transition from laboratory animals to non-animal methods in research.

Devise a concrete plan

The initiative does call on the European Commission to set goals, with target dates where possible. Several parties have shown that animal-free innovations are possible. "We want the European Commission to show us a concrete proposal of how these innovations (where possible) will be rolled out throughout the rest of the EU".

The citizens' initiative explicitly states that the goals must be achievable, so that biomedical research is not compromised. Furthermore, the citizens' initiative actually stresses that the plan should not be at the expense of scientific research or human and environmental safety.

Animal-free research helps animals and humans

The many animal-free innovations that have been developed in recent years show that a world without animal testing is possible. Not only do they contribute to animal welfare, but also to biomedical research. "We are proud of the many scientists who are making great strides in developing animal-free alternatives. Whether this comes from an ethical motivation or from the pursuit of effective biomedical research: both animals and humans benefit.

It’s not for nothing that research shows that 88% of drugs tested on animals do not work for humans. This is why we see the European Commission's response to phase out animal testing for chemical purposes as a victory – a nice and much-needed step forward. Unfortunately, at the same time, they refuse to protect the European Cosmetics Act of 2013.", the organisation said.

Let's strengthen each other, not weaken each other

Thanks to the citizens' initiative, the development of animal-free methods has finally gotten the attention of the European Commission. "But if we point the finger at each other, we run the risk that the European Commission will push the issue aside again. It is especially important now to act together as society, science and industry.

Together we can move national and European governments, both in funding and regulation, to provide space and opportunities for science to continue to develop. In the end, we are all working towards the same goal: reliable and effective biomedical research, with an eye for human health, the environment and animal welfare. Let's really join forces now and make sure that our joint efforts do not go unnoticed."