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Animal Welfare
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Current and future challenges

Getting the numbers down

Latest statistics show that over 9.8 million animals were used for scientific experiments in Europe in 1999. This is a reduction of over 1.8 million on 1996 figures and is the first time numbers have dropped below 10 million. The EU aims to reduce this number even further.

Widening the debate

The European Commission is committed to widening the debate on animal welfare issues and to the implementation of the Three Rs principle (reduction, refinement, replacement) as an integral part of R&D in life sciences and biotechnology. Involving the public and other key stakeholders in this debate is essential.

Animal welfare and global trade

The EU’s demand for more welfare-conscious production systems has implications for the trade in animals and animal products between the Union and the rest of the world. The Commission wants to make sure that animals and animal products imported into Europe adhere to the EU’s animal welfare rules. However, ensuring our trading partners’ track record on animal welfare lives up to those rules is no easy task. The EU raised this issue during WTO negotiations on agriculture.

Chemicals policy

The need to find alternatives to animal testing is more urgent than ever, particularly in light of the EU chemicals policy which calls for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemical substances. Over 30 000 chemical substances will undergo risk assessment by 2012 which, independent experts estimate, could involve several million animals, unless suitable alternative methods are set up.  

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