– Douglas Adams
It had all been going so well. The path EU legislation must navigate is notoriously complex. Consultations, proposals, amendments – input from MEPs and compromises between national governments – the road is long and winding.
But for the EU’s directive on how animals are used in medical research, this lengthy process appeared to have produced a compromise which governments agreed would raise standards of animal welfare, reduce red tape by harmonising rules across Europe, and promote the 3Rs.
As European governments begin implementing EU rules on the use of animals in research, new figures reveal that the UK – a leading player in medical science – used more lab animals last year than at any time in the past three decades.
Some 3.8 million procedures were carried out on animals including dogs, cats, mice and monkeys last year, according to press reports.
The numbers are less important than the trend. The total figure is the highest since 1981.
Where did the first half of this year go? In the world of European legislation, 2012 is a key milestone for the transposition of stricter legislation which will increase the protection and welfare of laboratory animals used for scientific purposes.
Post the adoption of Directive 2010/63/EU in September 2011, this law is now being translated and implemented at national level, across Europe.
Central to the debate on the use of animals in research, is the legislation that governs it. And after more than eight years of negotiations, the 1986 legislation (Directive 86/609) overseeing the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, was updated and published in September 2010.