The RSPCA is said to be dismayed by today’s European Parliament vote on a new labanimal law which fell “woefully short” of what the society hoped would bedone to improve animal welfare.

The European Parliament agreed its amendments to the European Commission’s plans for updating European Directive 86/609, which regulates the use of animals in research and testing.

The RSPCA had feared that the European Parliament would cave in after pro-animal use lobbyists made exaggerated claims that tougher rules on using primates will lead to live-saving research grinding to a halt in Europe. Unfortunately, the society feels that its fears have proved to be well founded.

RSPCA senior scientist Barney Reed said: “In 2007, MEPs overwhelmingly supported a declaration calling for an end to great apes and wild-caught primates use in Europe and a clear strategy for replacing all primate experiments with humane alternatives. Today, when given the chance to follow these words up with actions, they have failed.

“This means that they have betrayed the thousands of primates who will continue to be confined in laboratories and used in experiments. The public will be staggered to learn that the directive now contains no measures towards ending the suffering of these remarkable animals.”

The RSPCA claimed the adopted proposals contained “positive elements which will raise standards in numerous EU countries”, but believed that many “once-in-a-generation opportunities for achieving real and lasting improvements” had been lost.

Mr Reed said: “There are some things to be welcomed in these proposals but they fall a long way short of what could and should have been achieved. As a result, animals may still be subjected to ‘severe’ suffering, there is no outright ban on the use of great apes and no strategy in place for ending primate use in general.

“Furthermore, the system of licensing the use of animals has been watered down to such an extent that it even delegates responsibility for some experiments to the very institution using the animals.”

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