Ireland languishing in Europe's bottom division in animal test replacement

A survey of EU governments’ investment in research to replace animal experiments has discovered that Ireland has not allocated any funds towards such work between 2010 and 2013, placing it in the bottom division of EU states. The survey was conducted by the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, of which the IAVS is a member.

A series of Parliamentary Questions tabled at the request of the IAVS revealed a worrying lack of effort on the part of the Irish Government. The other governments to have neglected this field were the Czech Republic, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain.

The fifty year old principle of the 3Rs – replacing, reducing and refining animal experimentation - is supposed to be fundamental to science for animal protection and human health reasons. Trying to avoid the deliberate infliction of pain and suffering to animals is a basic tenet of any civilised society. Furthermore, difficulties in translating animal test results to humans provide a compelling scientific imperative to phase out animal research: 92% of potential medicines that pass animal testing fail to make it on to the market.

However, the Irish Government’s failure to back the 3Rs with direct investment seems to suggest institutional indifference to animal welfare and a lack of foresight in relation to the development of Irish science and the potential multi-billion euro returns from 3Rs investment. The IAVS is concerned that Ireland could be left behind in the race to modernise bioscience, with long-term negative social and economic consequences. The Government’s neglect also breaches the spirit of new EU legislation that requires countries to support and promote the development of non-animal alternative methods.

The IAVS will continue to press the Irish Government to fulfil its legal and moral duties to save animals from experimental suffering and improve the reliability of medical research.

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