The European Union is widely recognized as a global leader, with some of the world’s best animal welfare rules and standards. EU rules on animal welfare include protection from hunger, thirst, discomfort, . Pain, injury, disease, fear and distress. However, the EU and its Member States realized that, despite the legislative progress, more effective laws that include stricter measures and more effective control are needed.
Animal testing on cosmetics
One of the persistent practices around the world is animal testing on cosmetics. This practice is prohibited in the EU, but for deep and complete protection, this prohibition should be worldwide, because even if the cosmetics testing on animals and the marketing of such products are banned in the EU, it is still allowed in about 80% of countries around the world.
Animal testing for finished cosmetic products has been prohibited in the EU since 2004 and for cosmetic ingredients since 2009. Since 2009 it has also been illegal to market any cosmetic products in the EU that contain ingredients that have been tested on animals.
Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products, that provides the current regulatory framework in this regard, establishes rules to be complied with by any cosmetic product made available on the market, to ensure the functioning of the internal market and a high level of protection of human health.
For that reason, the European Parliament called this month for more funding into alternatives test methods and for a worldwide ban.
It is not effective if this prohibition is not worldwide. Many cosmetic brands outside the EU still use these practices, and their products may be mislabelled and consequently be imported and sold in Europe. We must make this ban a global ban.
Animals testing for scientific proposes
When it comes to using animals for scientific purposes, the legal framework has a different objective. On the one hand, protect animals and, on the other hand, allow the research.
The EU only had the alternative of protecting both interests by limiting experimentation on animals and setting minimum requirements for their welfare.
However, considering the current scientific knowledge, it is not feasible to replace all animal testing with other methods.
The EU rules on this issue are collected in the Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.
This Directive, based on the principle of replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of animals in procedures, aims to improve the welfare of animals still needed to be used in scientific techniques, guarantee a level playing field for industry and enhance the quality of research in the EU.
The European Parliament urges the EU to accelerate the transition to a research system that does not use animals. It also recognizes that previous animal testing has contributed to research and medical advances and safe vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Nevertheless, according to a Commission report, up to 12 million animals were bred and killed for animal testing in 2017 without being used in actual experiments.
No one can deny the benefits of scientific research on our life, well-being and health, but those practices are inhumane.
Unfortunately, there are still cases in which animal experiments are still needed to obtain scientific answers on specific diseases. However, this is not an excuse to create new and alternative methods to animal testing. This testing technique must be replaced by new ways immediately, and when it is not possible, they should only be used as a last option. In the meantime, it is essential, at the very least, to minimize the pain and suffering of these animals.
Alternative methods to animal testing
The development of alternative methods has dramatically reduced the number of animals used in experimentation. They must be implemented to gradually replace the cases in which the use of animals is still necessary until this practice is definitively ended and banned.
The main possible alternative approaches are:
– Standardized protocols or the use of information extracted from previous studies, which avoid unnecessary in vivo and in vitro experiments.
– Cell-based tests and tissue models.
– Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae, plants or invertebrates.
– Embryos in the initial stages of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
– In vitro methods: organs, cultures, acellular systems.
– Computational models (in silico) of prediction and data integration.
– Human volunteers.
– Human-patient simulators.
We have to help put an end to this animal testing method for research and promote non-animal testing methods. What is in our hands, for now, is to stop buying products that still use these techniques, boycott companies and brands that still test on animals and spread awareness of this harmful and cruel method.
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