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Animal-testing reforms need to be debated

New regulations governing animal experimentation are due before the Dáil.

The regulations relate to a complex new EU directive allowing countries wide discretion in enforcement. Although these will be the most significant reforms since 1876, the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society is concerned that these historic regulations have not been subject to adequate consultation and might not be debated before being enshrined in law.

Animal experimentation has risen to unprecedented levels in Ireland, with a 636% increase over the last five years, to 279,609 animals in 2010. Ireland now has one of the highest per capita rates in Europe of painful animal testing.

A significant proportion of these animals are used in experiments officially classed as causing ‘severe and prolonged pain’ and tens of thousands more are used in severe 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.

Painful and lethal experiments on animals are only supposed to be permitted on the basis of predicted public benefits. If the new law is to command public confidence and enjoy democratic legitimacy, it is essential that the Government allows the proposed regulations to be debated and amended in the Dáil.

Yvonne Smalley, Dr Dan Lyons
Irish Antivivisection Society
Co Wicklow