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H O R I Z O N

2 0 2 0

www.horizon2020projects.com

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

I S S U E S E V E N

171

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : A N I M A L E T H I C S

Balancing arguments

Concluding the interview, Portal asked Deketelaere how best the

concerns of ECI supporters could be addressed whilst also balancing the

need for vivisection research. “At my own organisation,” he replied, “I

have absolutely no problem in entering into a debate, holding

conferences and discussions, and coming up with best practices and

new efforts to look for alternatives; we are already doing that and

investing in that.

“My expectation is that there will be a number of announcements that

the Commission will make: conferences, best practices and a search for

alternatives; that’s all fine for me.

“Let’s put everything that we collect in this way on the table and let’s put

that into the review, which will take place by 2017. In a lot of EU member

states, this directive has just been implemented and has no practical

application yet; there are even member states which are being

challenged before the Court of Justice for the wrong and incorrect

implementation of the directive. There is still some experience and

practice to be gained, which could be very useful for the review.”

The European Commission published its response to the ECI in

early June.

competitiveness would certainly be harmed,

leading to a possible ‘brain drain’ of top

scientists to other parts of the world.

“If Europe says it is finished with this kind of

activity, then it’s clear that we will see a move

of specific research in need of animals to other

parts of the world. What is even worse is that it

is most likely the people here in Europe, who

are absolutely top notch in what they are doing,

that will move together with the research. We

will not be in the lead of various medical

research issues anymore, and we will lose the

great people that we have here at the moment

in Europe.

“It’s clear that a delay is going to be

introduced for tackling and for doing research

on issues, which is going to cost the lives of

people and animals.”

Testing

In a video posted on the Stop Vivisection

website, Professor Jeremy Rifkin, president

of the Foundation on Economic Trends,

commented: “For years, governments,

corporations and researchers have argued that

the testing of animals to assess the risk of

chemicals to human health is essential to

ensure the wellbeing of our own species. But

now new breakthroughs in the field of

genomics, bioinformatics, epigenetics and

computational toxicology are providing new

research tools for studying the impact of toxic

chemicals on human health that are far more

accurate in assessing the risk of these

chemicals to human beings.”

In view of such breakthroughs, Portal asked

Deketelaere for his thoughts on the need for

vivisection to its current extent or, in some

cases, in terms of toxicology studies. “The

practice now,” he said, “on the basis of the

2010 directive, and even on the basis of the

previous regulation, is that animal testing only

takes place when there is no other alternative,

and if it is taking place, it is done completely in

line with what the directive is saying.

“Certainly in those fields or for those issues in

which better scientific alternatives to animal

testing have been established, as this directive

states, other tools, other instruments, and other

practices have to be applied.”

Professor Kurt Deketelaere

League of European Research Universities

B R OW S E

www.leru.org www.ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_a nimals/legislation_en.htm

The LERU secretary

general commented

that the directive “has

just been

implemented” with

“no practical

application yet”