Victories, Progress and Patience
It’s always fantastic to be involved in an intense campaign that achieves quick results for animals. Two weeks ago, we stopped an Air France shipment of monkeys destined for an animal laboratory, and the week before, we persuaded the government to refuse permission for a new beagle-breeding farm.
However, we also make slow and steady progress in areas that impact thousands and even millions of animals. For instance, we have just learned of a small but vital change that removes some of the bureaucratic obstacles preventing companies from bypassing animal testing.
Because vaccines are made from live viruses, there can be variations in the strength and safety of different batches of the same vaccine. To detect this problem in veterinary vaccines, each new batch has traditionally been tested on the “target” animals (ie, on cows for cow vaccines, on cats for cat vaccines, etc) in a practice known as “target animal batch safety testing”, or TABST.
Following a study of the scientific and ethical aspects of this test, the European Commission stated in 2002 that the routine use of TABST was not considered relevant and that the testing “appeared to be superfluous”. In 2005, a rule introduced in Europe took these findings into account and allowed companies to forgo TABST if they proved their batches to be reliable.
In 2008, PETA UK learned that the UK government was not ensuring that companies used the mechanism that allowed them to avoid animal testing – they were even charging companies to waive the tests! After some “targeted” work, we finally closed those loopholes.
We then pressed the issue with the European Medicines Agency, which has now published new guidelines designed to simplify the process for companies applying to waive the tests – guidelines that will save animals’ lives and help implement the 2005 ruling at long last.
In another animal-testing issue, you can help PETA ensure that the UK law governing animal tests isn’t watered down by a new European Union Directive, 2010/63/EU, which describes protection of animals used for scientific purposes. Please contact the government today.