The EU Commission has produced a strongly-worded assertion of the ongoing need for animal models in biomedical research, in response to the PETA petition (PETA UK, PETA France, PETA Germany and PETA Netherlands) which called for a Europe-wide moratorium on the use of animals in scientific research.
PETA’s arguments used to justify this approach is that ‘research’ has shown that animal ‘experimentation’ has contributed very little to current knowledge regarding infectious diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, strokes, cancer, and many other human illnesses.
The Commission's letter was wholly supportive of research using animal models and said:
“Contrary to the petitioners’ assertion that animal research is of limited value, it is a fact that animal studies have contributed significantly to improved health and quality of life as well as to longer life expectancy. Effective treatments exist today for many infectious diseases, some forms of cancer, and several chronic diseases such as diabetes. These advancements would have been impossible without the insights gained through animal studies. Such studies are also required by Union legislation to authorise human clinical trials, and to protect health and the environment.”
These positive comments should be seen in the same light as the reply from the European Medicines Agency to EARA’s letter to them stressing the benefits of animal models to better understand and find a vaccine for Covid-19.
The PETA petition argued, much as a recent MEP letter to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) did, that the future of science lies in cutting-edge, non-animal methodologies, and that the Commission should quickly move to favouring animal-free science.