Germany's poor transposition of EU animal experimentation directive
Missed opportunities in Germany to increase protection for laboratory animals
After a long delay, Germany finally transposed EU Directive (2010/63/EU) on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, into national law, with the Government narrowly missing a penalty from the EU for late enforcement, given that the deadline was 1st January this year. Sadly however, the delays in the new regulation are not due to increased welfare measures.
So what does the revised regulation mean for lab animals?
The EU animal testing Directive ( 2010/63/EU ) had to be transposed into national law by the Member States until 10 November 2012. In January 2012, the Department of Agriculture (BMELV) submitted also a new regulation on lab animals, as part of the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act. With 66 objections against the new regulation the Agriculture Committee came up in May, ranging from small-scale failures of the Federal Government up to keeping the status quo. On 7 June 2013 the Federal Council finally approved the regulation. With a long delay the regulation was finally enforced in August. The EU had already opened an infringement procedure against Germany, but despite a close call, the government has managed to escape incurring a penalty with it's 'eleventh hour' submission. This lengthy delay shows that the current government has completely failed in terms of making genuine improvements to the welfare of over 2.9 million animals subjected to experiments in Germany every year.
The new regulation focuses primarily on four issues : experiments on primates, experiments on great apes, animal experiments which cause severe pain as well as a retrospective review of animal experiments.
The new regulation fails to go far enough in its restriction of using certain protected species such as non-human primates, including great apes, despite requests by associations and the Agricultural Committee.
In addition, there is sadly no restriction on experiments which cause the most severe pain and suffering. This makes a mockery of the requirement to question the benefits of an animal experiment which is included in the regulation and significantly weakens this and other ethical considerations.
The Ethics Committee on animal testing remains powerless, since it is represented largely by members of the animal research sector and is also limited to only an advisory role.
There is also still no national body established to act as competent authority on alternatives to animal testing. This is highlighted further by the fact that the new regulation fails to consider improvements in terms of non-animal research and the reduction of animal experiments.
The introduction of a retrospective assessment process including ethical justification is excessively restrained. It’s only valid for experiments on primates and the experiments which cause severe pain, also the results of the process are not available for the public.
"Unfortunately any welfare provisions are subject to numerous exceptions or safeguard clauses that effectively make the new animal testing regulation meaningless in increasing protection for lab animals. This is in conflict with the new EU directive", says campaign manager Dr. Stephany of FOUR PAWS.