Government Reveals Its Hand on New Animal Test Law

Posted by on June 18, 2011 | Permalink

When laws protecting animals are updated, the usual practice is to strengthen them. But the Home Office’s just-released plans for a new UK law on animal experimentation could lead to more suffering for more animals than ever before.

Last year the EU produced a new directive to regulate experiments on animals, and that means that all member states, including the UK, have to amend their own laws. PETA worked hard to get the best result for animals when the directive was going through the European Parliament, and this will certainly stop some of the suffering that animals endure in laboratories in many EU countries. However, while it is a minor improvement to the current UK law in a handful of ways, it is actually worse in many others.

But there is no need for this to happen. The directive allows countries to keep any higher standards of animal protection they already have. In fact, if you read the government’s statement about their proposals, it looks as though things will remain as they are. However, an in-depth look at the public consultation makes it clear that lowering standards is one of the options it is considering. Inspections of laboratories could be reduced, it could become easier to get permission to do experiments and some procedures that have been illegal in the UK for years could be made legal again. And special protection for cats and dogs could be lost. While both are experimented on in Britain, we use fewer than some countries. As a proportion of the total number of animals experimented on, we use just a third of the EU average for cats and just an eighth of France’s total. Without the protections they have in the UK at the moment, numbers of cats and dogs used are bound to go up.

It’s absolutely vital that that doesn’t happen. PETA will be submitting a detailed and comprehensive response to the consultation, and it’s very important that as many compassionate people as possible also send a message to the government that animals in laboratories need more protection, not less. Let’s hope that the government has the guts and the decency to listen to the opinions of the British public and that we see no repetition of its shameful failure to do the right thing, such as when it failed to ban circuses featuring wild animals.

The consultation is open until September, and we’ll be providing more information about how people can best respond to it soon. In the meantime, please contact the Home Secretary to tell her that the government must rule out any reduction of the meagre protection that animals in British laboratories already have.

Please also consider making a donation to help PETA fight for all animals, worldwide.