April 21, 2009
Cyber Marchers Call on Europe to Take Action on Animal Experiments
As Members of the European Parliament prepare to vote next month on proposals to update Europe’s animal experiments directive, animal advocates are taking to cyber-space to demonstrate public support with a virtual march on the European Parliament. Launched today by Humane Society International, the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research and Four Paws, the Make Animal Testing History virtual march is a global first for animal protection campaigning. It is being launched throughout the European Union to coincide with World Week for Animals in Laboratories.
More than 12 million animals are used in experiments in Europe each year. Animals such as rodents, rabbits, cats, dogs and monkeys are used in experiments that can cause physical and mental distress. The law that regulates experiments, Directive 86/609, is more than 20 years old and desperately out of date.
Improvements have been proposed such as better animal protection, a phase-out of primate experiments, ethical review and real progress on non-animal alternatives. However, pharmaceutical and animal research industries are lobbying hard to thwart new welfare measures, even opposing limits on the level of pain animals are allowed to suffer or the number of times they can be re-used in experiments.
“The revision of Directive 86/609 is a key moment in the history of Europe’s treatment of animals,” says Wendy Higgins, spokesperson for the Make Animal Testing History coalition of groups. “It has a clear opportunity to lead the world in replacing animal experiments with advanced non-animal techniques, and until complete replacement is achieved it should be championing the most robust, transparent and progressive regulation achievable. Surveys show that citizens across Europe share that vision, but politicians seem to be largely ignoring their views and pandering to the vested interests of the animal research industry instead. It is vital that they start to listen and our Make Animal Testing History virtual march is a novel way of demonstrating public support for change. This gives the idea of peaceful demonstration a whole new virtual dimension that can appeal to a mass audience. The cyber community has a keen sense of social justice but is more likely to click a computer mouse than waive a placard.”
The virtual march at MakeAnimalTestingHistory.org is launched in no fewer than 13 European languages, including Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian. Citizens from across Europe are being invited to get e-active by signing an on-line pledge and creating their own personalised avatar figure to join a mass cyber parade through Brussels towards the European Parliament building. Web visitors will be able to monitor the number of marchers from each EU member state, and after the EU Elections in June, they will be able to see which MEPs have joined the march too.
MEPs are due to vote on the 86/609 proposals in the European Parliament in May this year. It will be the first time that the full Parliament has voted in what is set to be a lengthy process of debate.
12.1 million animals were used in EU experiments in 2005; Fifth Report on the Statistics on the Number of Animals used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes in the Member States of the European Union published 5/11/2007 (these are the most recent EU-wide statistics available).
The Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research is the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity — On the web at drhadwentrust.org.
Four Paws is an international animal welfare organisation with offices in nine EU countries — On the web at fourpaws.org.uk.
Humane Society International is a leading animal protection organisation representing 11 million members across Europe, Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, India and the United States. Visit HSI Europe on the web at hsieurope.org.