New EU Directive: Government Averts the Worst for Now, but Doesn’t Close the Door
The government published its official response today to last year’s public consultation on the new EU directive on animal experiments. Thousands of PETA supporters responded to the consultation and contacted the minister on this matter because of the threat that standards in UK laboratories could be dropped even further. PETA is pleased to see that the government has resisted some of the most obvious threats that the new directive poses to animals in UK laboratories and has accepted many of the arguments that we put forward in our detailed response consultation last year, including maintaining existing protection for dogs and cats.
However, on a lot of issues, the government says it will simply put bare minimum requirements into the legislation and sort out the detail later. This is worrying because that detail will have a massive bearing on how animals are actually treated. As it stands, we could end up with legislation that allows a shift of power from regulators to those who need regulating – which experience shows is never in the public interest. In particular, the government’s chosen approach could herald a massive reduction in inspections of laboratories. The government has also failed to show any commitment to ending blanket secrecy on the regulation of animal experiments, and it looks like the public will still be permitted only selected glimpses of what really takes place.
Animals in laboratories are already subjected to abuses and suffering that would be illegal if they took place anywhere else. Our existing law is permissive and weakly enforced, and it stacks the deck in favour of those who test on animals, not the animals it is supposed to protect. While we credit the government for maintaining many provisions that could have become much worse as a result of the directive, unless there is a real will to challenge the animal experimentation industry and implement the law in favour of animals, not experimenters, few animals will really benefit.
While the government’s statement is the clearest explanation of their intentions yet, nothing is final until the legislation is proposed and adopted by Parliament later this summer. Please contact the minister now.