EU Directive 2010/63

Countdown to new Irish legislation for laboratory animals

Transposition of Directive 2010/63/EU into Irish law

The Irish Anti-Vivisection Society has urged the Department of Health not to impose the new law intended to regulate animal experimentation without proper consultation on the draft text and a debate in the Dail.

The new law, due to be passed in November, implements a new EU Directive [1] and represents the biggest change in this field since the 1876 Cruelty to Animals Act. The IAVS has written to the Department of Health and TDs to argue that the disturbing increases in animal experimentation in Ireland (a 636% increase over just five years to 279,609 in 2010), combined with growing public interest, means that these laws must receive proper democratic scrutiny.

Animal experimentation laws present unique moral problems, as they allow the infliction of pain and suffering on individuals who cannot give their consent. A significant proportion of Irish animal experiments are officially classed as causing ‘severe and prolonged pain’ and tens of thousands more are used in lethal poisoning experiments to test Botulinum Toxin products. No other area of Government policy has such a direct and potentially damaging effect on the welfare of individuals in Ireland.

The IAVS also points out that experiments on animals are only supposed to be permitted on the basis of predicted public benefits. It is therefore essential that there is full public debate regarding when animal tests are allowed and how Ireland can reduce and eliminate animal experiments, which is the ultimate aim of the Directive.

This is a complex Directive which gives each national government in the EU a great deal of room for interpretation in key areas, such as how they will conduct the harm-benefit test of proposed research projects, and the composition of ethical review bodies. The IAVS is particularly concerned that the Irish Government currently intends to pass an optional loophole evading the ban on subjecting animals to ‘severe pain, suffering or distress that is long-lasting and cannot be ameliorated’.

[1] DIRECTIVE 2010/63/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes