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European coalition concerned about ‘very low’ national European funding of alternative methods, irrespective of the legal obligation stated in Directive 2010/63/EU
The survey, published this week by online science journal, Altex, was conducted by member organisations of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), and asked national governments to formally state how much funding they were committing to the development of alternative methods in order to see if they were honouring their legal requirements.
According to the new EU law on animal experiments, Directive 2010/63/EU, which entered force in January 2013, national governments should contribute to the development and promotion of alternative methods.
The survey found that only half of EU countries were prepared to answer; of those, only seven reported specific funding; Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the UK.
Reported funding of alternative methods in these seven countries totalled € 18.7 million in 2013. The remaining countries that responded; the Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia andSpain did not allocate any funds for 2013 or in previous years.
Out of the responding countries, the funding of alternatives was only between 0 to 0.036% of national research and development science expenditure. Between those countries contributing funds there was a 25-fold difference in the proportion of science research and development funding that goes to alternative method development.
The UK provided the most funds both in real terms and as a proportion of their science research and development expenditure - over € 11 million in 2013 (0.036% of their national science research budget).
Michelle Thew, CEO to the ECEAE said: “We are disappointed that member states do not yet seem to have caught up to the fact that the new EU law requires them to actively contribute to the development of methods that replace animals in testing. Over 11 million animals are used across the EU every year and unless member states do something about this it will not change. We urge the European Commission to ensure that all EU countries report to them on what they are contributing and hold them account, if it is, as it seems to be in many cases, absolutely nothing.”
The survey did reveal some positive action, with indications that the contributions of some of these countries have increased since the implementation of the new Directive. Reported funding has significantly increased in Austria, Denmark, Finland, and the UK since previous years. In addition, Denmark plan to set up a centre dedicated to alternatives and Spain indicated they are setting up a network to help promote alternative methods.
The survey is published in ALTEX Online first WEBLINK http://dx.doi.org/10.14573/altex.1401061, published January 24, 2014 http://www.altex.ch/resources/epub_Taylor_140124.pdf
Article 47 of the new EU Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes requires national governments to contribute to the development and promotion of alternative methods.
The amounts allocated in 2013 were compared to national R&D science expenditure reported in Eurostat pocket book (2013), for 2011.
Contributing countries in 2013, Euros: UK (11,071,467 equivalent), Germany (5,015,000), Sweden (1,689,762 equivalent), Denmark (402,176), Austria (290,000), Belgium (155,600), Finland (100,000).
Non-contributing countries in 2013; Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Spain.
Non-responding countries in 2013; Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands (not contacted), Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia,