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February 24, 2016
It is time for a serious debate on Animal Experimentation
Now, 1,173,131 signatories of Stop Vivisection Eci are waiting for the European Institutions to focus on Science. A public “Conference to discuss the validity of the animal models” is to be held before the end of the year as stated in a letter to Stop Vivisection from the European Commission dated 17 December, 2015 (see www.stopvivisection.eu/news). This will be an invaluable opportunity to appraise the scientific arguments, both for and against animal testing, and to assess the progress of medical and toxicological research in line with the needs of the XXI Century.
While waiting for further details about this much needed Conference, here are our answers and remarks about the Eurl Ecvam Survey, as stated in a letter to the Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen
Read the letter here
24 gennaio 2016
Scienza da innovare? Sicuro! Ma guardando AVANTI non INDIETRO.
(In risposta alla senatrice Elena Cattaneo)
Nel suo articolo di stamane su Repubblica (“Non è un paese per scienziati”): la scienziata e senatrice a vita Elena Cattaneo non si è accorta che coloro che contestano la direttiva europea 2010/63/Eu - in particolare noi di STOP VIVISECTION - non chiedono la fine della ricerca medica e tossicologica, ma tutt’altro. Chiedono che si accendano i riflettori e si discuta della ricerca che la senatrice difende: fondata su metodologie arcaiche (la sperimentazione animale), mai convalidata scientificamente (sì, leggete bene: mai nessuno studio scientifico ha potuto convalidarne i presupposti e gli esiti), e da questo punto di vista, quindi, platealmente “tribale”:
la scienziata e senatrice a vita Elena Cattaneo non si è accorta che la principale richiesta che l'Iniziativa dei Cittadini Europei (ICE) STOP VIVISECTION ha rivolto alla Commissione Europea, forte di 1.173.131 firme, è che venga indetta una conferenza internazionale dove sostenitori della sperimentazione animale e sostenitori della necessità di voltar pagina, adottando metodi sostitutivi, possano finalmente mettere a confronto - dinanzi agli occhi del pubblico - dati, statistiche, argomenti, prospettive.
La scienziata e senatrice a vita Elena Cattaneo non si è accorta che l’essenza del metodo scientifico non sta nell’avere certezze granitiche e difenderle senza badare a quel che si dice, bensì dubitare, mettere perennemente in discussione ciò che si è imparato e si “sa", come fa qualsiasi vero scienziato, specie quando ci si avventura in un campo così straordinariamente sensibile, decisivo, essenziale, drammatico, come quello della nostra salute, di quella dei nostri figli e del Pianeta su cui viviamo.
La scienziata e senatrice a vita Elena Cattaneo non si è accorta che proprio praticando il dubbio, il vaglio dei risultati, l’analisi dei costi-benefici, eminenti stimati e affermati scienziati, medici e ricercatori di tutto il mondo oggi contestano la predittività dei modelli animali dichiarando che un nuovo paradigma di ricerca medica e tossicologica non solo è necessario: è indispensabile. Non lo fanno perché scopertisi improvvisamente animalisti, né per essersi inopinatamente convertiti all’astrologia: i loro studi, i loro scritti, le loro argomentazioni scientifiche sono alla portata di chiunque. Purché questo chiunque li voglia vedere e studiare, prima di parlarne.
Chi ha sottoscritto la battaglia contro la direttiva europea sulla vivisezione, dando la sua firma all’Iniziativa dei Cittadini Europei STOP VIVISECTION, lo ha fatto affinché sia rimessa in discussione una direttiva fondata su troppe certezze, innumerevoli interessi costituiti, moltissima ipocrisia, pochissima scienza e nessuna trasparenza. La scienziata e senatrice a vita Elena Cattaneo non se ne è accorta. Peccato. Sarà forse per questo, per questa scienza così poco umilmente scientifica, che il disamore per la scienza cresce?
I promotori di STOP VIVISECTION (www.stopvivisection.eu)
Vanna Brocca: 335 8214023
Fabrizia Pratesi: 335 8444949
05 June 2015
A disappointing response
The official response of the European Commission (June 3, 2015) comes as a huge surprise and disappointment to the 1.2 million citizens who signed the European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) «STOP VIVISECTION».
The European Commission response plainly ignores every single request in our list of 10, which recapitulate a most crucial scientific, political, economic and ethical campaign, that was undersigned by a significant number of European citizens and that has been recognised by the European Commission itself.
We, the promoters of the Stop Vivisection European Citizens Initiative (ECI), have shown our willingness to engage in a political and open dialogue with the European authorities by preparing a science-based document and by asking the Commission to provide specific answers to our ten proposals. Not one of our legitimate proposals was met.
We feel that 1.2 MILLION citizens, and three years of intense campaigning deserve something better than a very superficial, generic reply. The Commission reply, that it shares our goal of phasing out animal experiments, is hard to believe.
The Commission continues to rely on the outdated principle of the 3Rs (reduction, refinement, replacement) and stressing the ethical dimension of the debate but avoiding the scientific arguments regarding animal experimentation. This is clearly shown by the attitude towards the “conference issue” as well.
Ignoring our request to convene a future scientific debate, with experts from both sides (pro and counter animal experiments) where scientific arguments could be discussed in depth in front of the public and the media as well as the international scientific community, the Commission proposes to set up a conference on the development of alternative methods. The major problem with this approach is that it avoids addressing the scientific validity of the animal model.
This is a result showing a lack of democracy across the European political playing field, and a thorough lack of understanding of the collective interests and expectations as opposed to particular interests. To get the kind of answer that we have received from the European Commission it would have been sufficient to send a written question by a MEP or a petition to the Parliament.
We were told that the European Citizens Initiatives would allow one million citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, but the current events, as with the previous other ECIs, show that citizens participation provided by the Treaties is pure illusion. This is why in the next few weeks, we’ll lodge a complaint to the European Ombudsman denouncing the violation of the citizens’ right to be heard and given full informed, respectful answers to their questions. We will also involve the European Parliament in the defense of democratic debate between citizens and institutions as a fundamental value of civil and political coexistence.
And yet, despite the huge amount of obstacles we have been faced with, STOP VIVISECTION has achieved some fundamental results:
* more than one million.2 EU citizens who signed the ECI have now been made aware that there is an important scientific dimension to this debate besides the animal welfare concerns;
* the public hearing at the EU parliament also allowed MEPs to get more informed about the implications for our health and future of animal testing.
The organisers of STOP VIVISECTION deem it necessary that the public opinion participate in the debate about the nature, the scope, the implementation and the revision of Directive 2010/63/EU, that is due to come under official review in 2017. In the months and years to come STOP VIVISECTION, citizens and NGOs supporting it won’t be neutral observers.
Our gratitute to all those who have supported Stop Vivisection so far, and our gratitude to all those who will be by our side.
Fabrizia Pratesi : 0039-335-8444949
Andre Menache : 0044-7906-446889
12 May 2015
STOP VIVISECTION Audition in Brussels: a significant consensus
21 April 2015
Public hearing at the European Parliament
Dear Member of the European Parliament,
Always grateful for your support of our STOP VIVISECTION Initiative, we are happy to announce that the Public Hearing with the European Commission - in which our position on the use of animal testing will be explained - is going to take place
in the European Parliament in Brussels
on Monday, May 11th, 2015, from 3:00 pm to 6:30 pm
room JAN 4Q2 (Jozseff Antall Building)
in the presence of the European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and parliamentary committees AGRI, ENVI, ITRE and PETI.
It is going to be a unique opportunity to investigate a vitally important topic: modern biomedical research and toxicology. We therefore kindly ask you not to overlook this event, nor the possibility you have to book for taking the floor.
Out of forty European citizens Initiatives (ICE) that were started in the first three years of the newly acquired "Right of Initiative", only 3 (three) have passed the milestone of one million signatures, and STOP VIVISECTION - with 1,173,131 certified signatures - is among these 3. We would be very grateful if you would passon this invitation to your colleagues.
They should know that:
Our goal is to demonstrate that some of the current laws are founded on a basic error: that animal experimentation is aa scientific method of research, which can provide reliable answers for the human species.
It is easy to demonstrate that the use in laboratories of the "animal model", far from providing answers in toxicology and medicine, is an obstacle both for prevention and for treatment research, along with an immense waste of funds allocated to both.
For further information on data and statistics, we recommend reading the "Letter to the Members of the European Parliament" STOP VIVISECTION sent on March 15th,
2015, that you will find on the home page of our website.
Your participation is very important to us, and greatly appreciated
With our most sincere thanks in advance
The organising committee of STOP VIVISECTION
23 March 2015
A response from “Stop Vivisection” European Citizens’ Initiative
to the “Statement supporting European Directive 2010/63/EU” undersigned by 120 European public and private institutions committed to animal experimentation
The 3rd of March 2015, the European Citizens' Initiative “Stop Vivisection” was submitted to the European Commission with 1,173,131 certified signatures collected throughout EU Member States in order to phase out a most outdated (and even dangerous) method of biomedical research: animal experimentation.
A few days later Stop Vivisection was targeted with a Statement sent to the Commission and the European Parliament by some 120 European institutions quite familiar with animal experiments, ranging from well established Universities, laboratories and testing centres, to breeding facilities of animals for vivisection.
An inconsistent list of claims made in support of animal experimentation: this is, to sum it up, the content of the document, which indeed we, the promoters of Stop Vivisection, are happy to counter, thus making clear what a huge divide separates scientific research for human health from the position expressed in the aforementioned document.
A - Anecdotal declarations versus evidence based science:
The above mentioned Statement is full of high sounding but simplistic declarations (i.e.: "research on animals continues to be necessary to develop and improve treatments for patient benefit; animal research is critical to advancing human health [...] and to maintaining Europe's leading role...) that are devoid of scientific validity. No explanation, no written references, no scientific in-depth examinations are provided to support such egregious declarations. Was this a simple oversight? Not so:
- 1) Devoid of any scientific validity (and hence impossible to prove) is the affirmation that research on animals is necessary to develop treatments for patient benefit. Countless scientific studies underline the contrary of what the Statement declares. From Pandora Pound's Is animal research sufficiently evidence based to be a cornerstone of biomedical research? to Greek-Menache's Systematic Reviews of Animal Models: Methodology versus Epistemology, to Adrian Stallwood's Science corrupted: the nightmare world of GM mice, a concise but significant list of scientific reports and international reviews, analysing case by case the state-of-the-art of biomedical research and toxicological safety assessments, is to be found on Stop Vivisection web page.
We provide arguments not affirmations. We provide in-depth studies not declarations.
- 2) Devoid of any scientific validity (and hence impossible to prove) is the assumption that animal models are predictive of human outcomes. Statistics prove the opposite: testifying the fact that animal models are by no means predictive of human outcomes, 96% of drugs and substances that in preclinical studies prove useful on animals, unmercifully fail in subsequent human trials. How would the Statement authors explain this plain fact?
- 3) Devoid of any scientific validity (and hence untenable) is the assumption that the current animal testing paradigm mirrors a scientifically founded methodology. In fact, none of the animal studies currently used has ever undergone a formal scientific validation process similar to the one rightly imposed on substitutive methods. Plainly said: none of them has ever been validated. No scientific proof of their usefulness and efficacy has been provided. How would the Statement authors explain such a bizarre, very unscientific point?
- 4) Devoid of any scientific, methodological, financial and economic validity (and hence untenable) is the affirmation that animal research is critical to maintaining Europe's leading role. Indeed, acknowledging the necessity of phasing out animal experimentation, the United States have already set up a radical paradigm shift in toxicology and biomedical research that aims at fully developing new technological research methodologies: high throughput testing, omics approaches, imaging technologies, organs-on-a-chip, human stem cells, mini-organs, integrated test strategies, primary cell culture models...
The massive funding of alternative test methods has been widely recognized, in the U.S., as a critical need for toxicity testing and biomedical research in the present and in coming decades for the benefit of human and environmental health, as well as for the economic progress of the nation. But such a crucial financial challenge doesn't seem to occupy the Statement authors minds and is definitely missing in their affirmations. How would they explain this odd, distinct, noticeable loophole?
- 5) Devoid of any benefit for human health is the use of animal models aimed at preventing human diseases in toxicity testing, as well as the use of animal models aimed at curing human diseases in biomedical research. Even rats are no model for mice, and even in mice a targeted selection of strains allows to get a result or its exact opposite. Over the past decade official health statistics show a steep increase in prevalence and incidence of severe diseases (type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, breast and prostate cancers, etc.) and development impairements (autism, neuro-cerebral abnormalities...), which correlate with the soaring amount of chemicals in our diet and environment. Yet biomedical research in animal models has failed so far to stop or reverse these adverse trends, despite colossal investments. Could the Statement authors explain these dramatic failures, which claim within the EU every year countless causalities and premature deaths?
B - 3Rs versus sound ethical-scientific strategy to benefit human health
- 1) Devoid of factual validity and likelihood is the affirmation that the 3Rs principles (Replace, Reduce, Refine) do represent a credible, legitimate way of addressing the ethical problems posed by animal testing. Invoking the 3Rs as a means to improve animal welfare and make animal testing more acceptable to public opinion has proved to be a dead end. Since their inception, fifty-six years ago, the 3Rs ethical principles have by no means been able to reduce animal testing nor make it more respectable or scientifically adequate. Quite the opposite: in some areas there has been a marked increase in animal use and such a trend is bound to grow to inconceivable limits, given the uncontrolled use of GM animals. This fact is broadly aggravated by the doubling of secrecy that hides lab procedures and studies. How would the Statement subscribers justify, in the light of the 3Rs principles, these preposterous trends?
- 2) Devoid of factual validity and likelihood is the affirmation that European research methods meet high animal welfare standards and that the implementation of the Directive is key in achieving these standards. Directive 2010/63 cannot avoid mentioning every so often that severe pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm are being currently inflicted to lab animals.
Besides the single articles of the law, Annex VIII is very explicit in depicting procedures involving extreme suffering and distress. The law acknowledges: * the reuse of animals having already undergone a procedure entailing severe pain, distress or equivalent suffering; * toxicity testing where death is the end-point, or fatalities are to be expected and severe pathophysiological states are induced; * breeding animals with genetic disorders that are expected to experience severe and persistent impairment of general health; * use of metabolic cages involving severe restriction of movement over a prolonged period; * inescapable electric shocks; * immobilisation stress to induce gastric ulcers or cardiac failure; * forced swim or exercise tests with exhaustion as the end-point, etc.
Stop Vivisection ECI counts on the support of 1,173,131 citizens and 236 European animal welfare and anti vivisection associations;
they ask, as we do, that the EU Institutions take seriously the task of overcoming the major threat posed to our societies, both on scientific and ethical grounds, by an obsolescent, and blindly advancing method of research.
C - Conclusion:
The Statement subscribers call on the European Parliament and Commission to reaffirm, without any discussion, their commitment to a Directive clearly out of step with the latest scientific developments and the current knowledge on differences between humans and animal models, on differences between species in general.
We do the opposite: we call on the European Parliament and Commission to discuss without prejudices, with sound scientific criteria, all the topics regarding animal experimentation and human health.
“The greater the challenge, the greater must be the effort, the commitment, the willingness to leave nothing unaddressed”.
The Promoting Committee of the European Citizens’ Initiative
Statement supporting European Directive 2010/63/EU (“Directive”) on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes
The European Parliament and Commission must oppose the ‘Stop Vivisection’ Citizens’ Initiative that is seeking to repeal the Directive and ban animal research. The Directive is vital to ensure that necessary research involving animals can continue whilst requiring enhanced animal welfare standards.
Summary: The use of animals in research has facilitated major breakthroughs in medicine which have transformed human and animal health. We support research using animals where alternative methods are not available, where the potential benefits to health are compelling, and where acceptable ethical and welfare standards can be met. The Directive has enhanced animal welfare standards and introduced the concepts of refinement, replacement and reduction (‘3Rs’) across the EU, while ensuring Europe remains a world leader in biomedical research. The ‘Stop Vivisection’ Citizens’ Initiative must be opposed by the European Parliament and the Commission - repealing the Directive would represent a major step backwards both for animal welfare in the EU and for Europe’s leading role in advancinghuman and animal health.
Research using animals has enabled major advances in the understanding of biology and has contributed to the development of nearly every type of treatment used in medical and veterinary practice today. Research on animals continues to be necessary to understand human and animal health and disease, and to develop and improve treatments for patient benefit across the world.
Animals may be used in research under the Directive where the potential medical, veterinary and scientific benefits are compelling and there is no viable alternative method. The use of animals for testing cosmetic products was banned across the EU in 2009 and the importation and sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals from outside the EU was completely banned in 2013.
For research using animals to be both ethical and scientifically rigorous, it must meet high welfare standards and the implementation of the Directive is key in achieving these standards consistently across the EU. Shaped by consultation with animal welfare groups, scientists and animal technologists, the Directive importantly embeds into EU legislation the requirement to consider the 3Rs when using animals in research. The 3Rs are:
• Replacement – methods which avoid or replace the use of animals;
• Reduction - methods which minimise the number of animals used per experiment;
• Refinement – methods which minimise any suffering and improve animal welfare.
Developments for alternative methods to the use of animals in research, such as use of human cell models and computer modelling, continue to progress and the biosciences sector must continue to drive these forward. However, alternative methods are not able to fully replace the use of animals at this time. For many diseases, including complex conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, which affect multiple organs, we must understand how the whole organism interacts, which means that research using whole animals continues to be essential.
We call on the European Parliament and Commission to reaffirm their commitment to the Directive. Any roll back from this would both undermine animal welfare and compromise high-quality research using animals. Such research is critical to advancing human and animal health in the EU and globally -and to maintaining Europe’s leading role in that endeavour.
16 March 2015
A new scientific paradigm for Europe
In view of an important meeting of the chairmen of committees in the European Parliament, on March 20th, 2015, the promoting committee of the European Citizens' Initiative STOP VIVISECTION has sent to these presidents - as well as to all the members of the european Parliament - a letter outlining the important scientific arguments of STOP VIVISECTION, as well as its implications on human health.
After submission to the European Commission of 1,173,131 certified signatures collected in support of STOP VIVISECTION, organizers of this European Citizens’ Initiative are going to be received in the European Parliament for a public hearing.
The date will be fixed very soon.
Some extracts from the letter to the Members of the european Parliament:
"STOP VIVISECTION, a European Citizens' initiative (ECI) was born in 2012 out of a strong desire of EU citizens to reach a common goal: the protection of life on our planet, now compromised by an ever more critical situation.
1 Rich but increasingly sick societies.
2 synthetic chemicals pose a major risk.
3 The animal model has no value for the human species.
4 Our request is: the replacement in the EU of animal research with modern scientific methods, based on data directly relevant for the human species.
5 A paradigm shift has already begun in the USA.
6 The new scientific paradigm should be applied in Europe, or else we will be left
7 Dear Member of the European Parlemant, it is essential that you participate in the "pivotal change", advocated by so many scientists."
To read the whole letter, click here.
4 March 2015
1,173,131 certified signatures!
1,173,131 certified signatures were presented on March 3rd, 2015, to the European Commission by the European citizens, promoters of STOP VIVISECTION.
This event is a key step forward in the launch of a new paradigm in biomedical sciences, to correct a methodological error that has slowed scientific progress and has hampered a sound health policy of prevention in Europe and elsewhere.
“Stop Vivisection”, European Citizens’ Initiative is potentially a step forward in democracy in Europe. It is our sincere hope that the position expressed by 86% of European citizens opposed to animal testing (Eurispes) will indeed be respected.
“Stop Vivisection” is one of only three European Citizens' Initiatives that have reached and passed the milestone of one MILLION certified signatures in the first 3 years of application of the newly granted right to initiative (Treaty of Lisbon).
The promoters of STOP VIVISECTION:
- thank the many scientists who courageously have expressed their condemnation of animal testing for scientific reasons;
- thank the Europeans citizens who, with great enthusiasm, have affixed their signatures and continue to give their help to STOP VIVISECTION;
- also thank the more than 232 organizations who have given their support to STOP VIVISECTION.
The promoters of STOP VIVISECTION hope that the European Commission will allow a constructive meeting to take place, so that these progressive ideas, often ignored or even censored, will be allowed to be shared with all concerned and their importance for the future of humanity be seen to be based on genuine scientific evidence.
26 November 2014
STOP VIVISECTION, the first European Citizens’ Initiative that will be examined by the new Commission, has collected 1,170,326 certified signatures
On November 26th, at 2:00 pm, a press conference has taken place in the Press conference room of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. The promoting Committee of the Initiative, announcing the next presentation of the 1,170,326 signatures on a date to be chosen with the Commission – was hosted by:
MEPs Fabio Massimo CASTALDO (M5S), Michèle RIVASI (Greens/EFA), Stefan ECK (GUE/NGL).
STOP VIVISECTION was founded with the commitment of some European Citizens to obviate the progressive worsening of human health in Europe, which threatens the future of our own species.
These are the reasons for their concern:
* European statistics (Eurostat) show an alarming increase in the incidence of cancer (especially in children) and neurological diseases due to endocrine disruptors (Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, sclerosis, etc), as well as diabetes, infertility, autism, allergies, and more.
* A careful assessment of this situation reveals the lack of effective preventive measures to reduce toxic hazards in our environment (closely related to our health, as many scientific studies have shown), as well as the lack of scientific advances in treatments of many of these diseases.
* The studies have shown that there is a common trap to all the failures: the use of animal testing - considered "biological model" of man – used both for prevention specific to humans, and for medical research in general. This is a fatal methodological error, since no species can be considered a biological model for another species.
* A growing movement of scientists, and quite a few very important scientific institutions, have for a long time reported the error represented by animal experiments in biomedical research: in both areas where it still is abundantly used: prevention (toxicology) and research (also for the production of medicaments).
* To avoid such a debate where they know they will be losers, scientists still pretend that the antivivisectioni movement is only made of people who defend animal rights never mentioning the scientific antivivisection movement, which defends human health, environment and the progress of science.
* In the US, on the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, a radical change was inititated in 2007 for the replacement of animal experiments with modern scietific methods, by far the most reliable, comprehensive, rapid and economic predictors for humans.
* In the EU, Directive 2010/63 passed under the pressure of economic powers (the choice in an experiment of the animal strain or species makes it possible to choose a desired result and the “uncertainty of the evidence" deletes any liability for the manufacturer of a substance found to be harmful), defends and even encourages the unreliable animal model.
*The organizing committee of "STOP VIVISECTION" also believes it is important to comply with Article 13 of the EU Treaty, supported by 86% of European citizens, calling for respect for animals as sentient beings. Animal rights and scientific progress proceed exactly in the same direction: the overcoming of animal testing.
STOP VIVISECTION calls on the EU, which has expertise in the field of Health and Research, to take over the health emergency before ii is too late, preparing the end of animal testing in the short term, while making mandatory all non-animal replacement methods available, encouraging their further development and thus finally, opening wide the doors to scientific progress in biomedical research.
André Ménache, United Kingdom: zoologist and veterinarian surgeon , director general of Antidote Europe.
Claude Reiss, France: physicist and cellular biologist, laboratory director for 30 years at CNRS of Paris and at Jacques Monod Institute, professor at the University of Lille, president of Antidote Europe.
Gianni Tamino, Italy: professor of biology at the University of Padua, former member of the european and of the italian Parliaments, president of EQUIVITA scientific Committee.