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Animals used for scientific purposes

Scientific questions tackled by the Animal Health and Animal Welfare Panel of the European Food Safety Authority

In 2003, the Commission organised a Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) to collect scientific and technical background information for the revision. The experts from Member States, industry, science and academia as well as from animal welfare organisations worked through a set of questions prepared by the Commission. The results of the TEWG provide an important input for the revision of the Directive. However, the TEWG highlighted four specific questions as requiring further scientific input.

The Animal Health and Animal Welfare Panel (AHAW) of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the appropriate scientific body advising the Commission on scientific matters relating to animal health and animal welfare. Therefore to obtain the most recent scientific information, the Commission requested AHAW to provide an opinion on these four questions. AHAW started the work in March 2005 and the Opinion was adopted on 14 November 2005.

The four questions concern

  • the sentience and the capacity to feel pain, suffering or distress of some invertebrate species used in experiments;
  • the sentience and the capacity to feel pain, suffering or distress of foetal and embryonic forms;
  • the criteria for requiring purpose bred animals to be used in experiments and the list of those species falling within this criteria;
  • humane methods of euthanasia per type of species used in experiments.
The Opinion together with a Summary and the Scientific Report have been published on 22 December 2005 by EFSA. The Opinion will provide an important input into the revision of the Directive. However, the specific recommendations in the opinion will need to be addressed in the context of the impact assessment of the revision.