European Commission rejects petition calling to ban animal testing

The European Commission has rejected a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) to phase out all animal testing in the EU. The Stop Vivisection petition, signed by over 1.2 million signatories, called for the repeal of Directive 2010/63/EU, which acknowledges that animal research is still necessary and for new legislation to ban all animal experiments by 2020. The Stop Vivisection group claims that alternative methods exist that are more ethical and more reliable than using animals. However, the European Commission rejected the ECI, statingThanks to major technological advances, Europe is reducing the use of animal testing. However, a complete ban on animal research in the EU would be premature and it would risk chasing out biomedical research from Europe.”

This opens up a potentially interesting area of debate on animal testing about whether governments should ban it if their public wants them to. If expert opinion is that animal testing is still needed, and so ultimately saves lives, but the public is against should the government in a democratic country do what its constituents want? However, those signing a petition are not a representative sample of whether the population would really want to ban animal research. We elect representatives so that they look at the information available and decide based on it, and judging from the Big Animal Research Debate held in 2013 it is likely that an informed choice would result in animal testing remaining, at least until there is a good alternative. In votes after our public debates 362 supported a ban while 1554 opposed a ban.