EU ‘to put animals before embryos’
The European Union is to radically restrict laboratory testing on animals - by insisting human embryos are used by scientists for research instead.
Toxicology tests on animals will be permitted only after similar research on tissue taken from human embryos has proved fruitless, according to a proposed new directive from the European Commission (EC).
Before scientists can test any new medicines on animals they will first have to determine that no other method is “reasonably or practicably available”. Such methods, according to the EC, include testing human embryonic stem cells - a procedure controversial in most European countries because the embryos are destroyed during the process of extraction of such tissue. If the EC directive is approved by MEPs next month it will be binding on all 27 EU member states, including Britain.
Article 13 of the directive reads: “Member states shall ensure that a procedure is not carried out if another scientifically satisfactory method or testing strategy of obtaining the result sought, not entailing the use of an animal, is recognised by Community legislation. In the absence of such a method, a procedure may not be carried out if a scientifically satisfactory method or testing strategy for obtaining the result sought, including computer-supported, in vitro and other methodologies, not entailing the use of an animal, is reasonably and practicably available.”
Katharina Schauer of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (Comece) said that the directive “may have the possible outcome of obliging member states to use certain toxicology tests aimed at reducing animal testing, and so involve the use of human embryonic stem cells”.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more depraved – killing embryos to save rats.