Brussels, 26 July 2002
The development of alternatives to animal experiments is already a priority for the EU, a European Commission spokesperson told CORDIS News, in response to a UK report which calls on the government to push the EU to prioritise the issue.
The report, by the UK House of Lords select committee on animals in scientific procedures, concludes that more should be done to promote alternative methods to animal experimentation, known as the three Rs - reduction, refinement and replacement.
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin stressed the importance of research into alternatives to animal experiments at a recent Commission conference on the subject.
'The Commission is committed to fostering the three Rs, including through its own research funding, but we can only get good results if there is a joint effort between scientists, national administrations, industry, NGOs [non governmental organisations] and European policy makers,' he said.
The UK report recommends the establishment of a dedicated centre which would coordinate research units in existing research centres and coordinate government spending on the three Rs.
Asked whether the Commission has any plans for such a centre at EU level, the spokesperson highlighted the existence of ECVAM (the European centre for the validation of alternative methods), which is 'already an excellent centre'. The spokesperson added, however, that plans to coordinate work carried out in different Member States would be a 'step too far'. The Commission is more concerned with coordinating research projects at EU level, the spokesperson added.
The report also recommends improvements in the public availability of information on what animal experiments are done and why. This is necessary 'to create an atmosphere in which the issue of animal experimentation can be discussed productively,' the report states.
To see the House of Lords report, please consult the following web address: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p a/ld200102/ldselect/ldanimal/150/150.pdf