World Day for Animals in Laboratories: EU citizens want to move towards non-animal science


World Day for Animals in Laboratories: EU citizens want to move towards non-animal science

24 April 2023
On this World Day for Animals in Laboratories (WDAIL), Eurogroup for Animals and its members join EU citizens in calling on the European Commission to step up its efforts to move towards more human-relevant and innovative non-animal science.

EU legislation on animals in science sets the ultimate goal of replacing all animals used for scientific and educational purposes with non-animal approaches. Yet, millions of animals continue to be used every year in research, testing, and education. In the EU and Norway alone, over 7.9 million animals were used for scientific purposes in 2020

In this context, EU citizens continue to express their dissatisfaction with what they see as insufficient action to move towards non-animal science. After the first successful European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) Stop Vivisection in 2015, the recently closed ECI Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics - Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing, has again collected over one million signatures. It calls on the European Commission to end the harmful use of animals in cosmetics and other chemical tests, and to put forward a concrete plan to transition to non-animal science. 

EU-wide support for ending animal testing is also clearly demonstrated by a recent opinion poll conducted in the EU Member States with the highest number of animals used for scientific purposes. In particular, the survey showed that 77% of EU citizens agree that the European Commission and its Member States should develop a coordinated strategy to transition to scientific research, testing, and education without the use of animals. 

Over the past year, there have been several highlights of how advanced non-animal strategies can be more effective in tackling human disease and assessing chemical safety. For instance, at the European Society for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EUSAAT) congress, several of our members and other participants presented positive developments in scientific areas where non-animal approaches can become the new norm. Additionally, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre published several reports describing advanced non-animal models in different disease areas with a view of accelerating the development of these technologies. Last October, experts from EU agencies, industry and academia also informed the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals of innovative non-animal solutions for regulatory purposes.

Today, we also highlight recent successes of several of our member organisations in advancing human-based science:

Doctors Against Animal Experiments (DAAE) recently won the Lush Prize 2022 in the Education and Training category for their Non Animal Technologies (NAT)-database, and launched the “AFA-net”, a network of researchers working in the field of non-animal-derived antibodies. Last year, they also exposed the severe suffering of non-human primates used in brain research in Germany, and they will continue to campaign to end this practice. On WDAIL, for example, DAAE are planning actions in 14 different German cities focusing on brain research using non-human primates.

LAV funded an in silico research project at the University of Parma focused on predicting mutations of the Covid-19 spike protein. They also persuaded the Italian Ministry of Health to financially support 16 public institutes to develop research projects using alternatives to animal testing. This year, LAV will continue to campaign for increased public funding for non-animal methods, and to take legal action against specific research projects involving non-human primates.

La Fondation Droit Animal, Ethique et Sciences (LFDA) has started to chair the Advisory board of the recently created French 3R centre (FC3R). They also recently participated in a conference on alternative methods to animal testing to explain their actions in this field. For instance, this year, the LFDA will award their 14th Prize of Biology Alfred Kastler for the development of a replacement method to animal testing. 

The RSPCA commissioned a poll which showed that 77% of UK citizens agree that ‘the UK Government should commit to 'phasing out' the use of animals in scientific research and testing’. They also raised awareness among political parties and Members of Parliament to commit to a strategy for phasing out animal experiments. Last year, the RSPCA also organised several events on ending severe suffering in animals used in science, as well as training, workshops, and presentations on how to create a ‘Culture of Care’ within establishments that use animals for scientific research and testing. This year, the RSPCA will continue to advance their two priorities: ending severe suffering for lab animals, and achieving a global commitment to phasing out animal experiments. On WDAIL, for example, they are planning a press release to promote their explainatory video on the latter.