and its affiliates, some of which work together as the PETA International Science Consortium (PISC), push international organizations, government agencies, and
industries to reduce or ban animal experiments and replace them with modern,
sophisticated non-animal test methods. One way in which PETA's efforts have had
global reach is through its work with an advisory group to the Organisation for Economic
Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the International
Council on Animal Protection in OECD Programmes (ICAPO). Spearheaded by
PETA, ICAPO's efforts to integrate non-animal test methods into OECD test
guidelines and programs have resulted in successes that have curtailed animal experimentation in many of the 34 OECD-member countries, sparing the
lives of potentially millions of animals.
Read on to see the progress that PETA
and its affiliates have made around the globe.
Some rights for animals have been granted
under the German and Swiss constitutions, and Europe has introduced
a ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics products. In addition, a
Europe-wide directive requires the use of alternatives to animal experiments
where they exist. With all this, it might seem as though animals in European
laboratories are relatively better off than those in the U.S. and elsewhere. Scratch the surface,
however, and things are more complicated.
Europe is home to some of the most shocking
experiments on nonhuman primates ever to be documented. An undercover
investigation in 2003 at the German branch of Covance, one of the largest
contract testing labs in the world, documented the horrific suffering of
thousands of monkeys who were subjected to a life of deprivation, fear,
torment, and poisoning. Comparable conditions were also found in a U.S. Covance
laboratory that PETA investigated the following year. A similarly deplorable
chimpanzee facility in the Netherlands at the Biomedical Primate Research
Centre was shut down after performing harmful experiments on chimpanzees for
years. With its closure, no great apes are used for research anywhere in Europe—and
a recent European Union (EU) law has effectively banned tests on great apes in
all foreseeable circumstances. (See below.) However, the battle to put an end
to harmful research on nonhuman primates and other animals is far from over.
In 2007, the EU introduced a new chemical testing plan known as Registration, Evaluation,
Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), which has already led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of animals and is
likely to kill millions more in cruel and archaic toxicity tests. The plan requires
some 30,000 common chemicals to be subjected to an extensive range of animal
testing. As a result of heavy pressure from PETA and other animal protection
organizations, the final law is less destructive than the original draft and
contains some progressive elements—but still, millions of animals are likely to
die. PETA affiliates in the EU, along with
science and policy experts, are
working hard to ensure that EU
and industry officials use every opportunity to avoid animal testing under
The EU recently passed new
legislation regulating animal experiments in all of its 27 member countries. Currently, 12
million animals are officially used in scientific procedures in the EU every
year, and the use of many other animals goes unrecorded. PETA's European
affiliates worked to ensure that the best possible results were obtained for
animals during the process of turning the proposal into law. While the new law
falls far short of a comprehensive ban on animal experiments, it has improved
controls on animal experiments in most countries of the EU. The law covers all
vertebrate animals, including fish, mice, rats, and birds, and sets particular
restrictions on the use of nonhuman primates. Like the old EU law it replaces,
the new law also requires that alternatives to animals be used where possible
and that the number of animals and the level of suffering be kept to a minimum
in every experiment. In practice, such measures are often not implemented
fairly and still allow terrible suffering to take place—but they do offer some
degree of protection.
In March 2009, all animal testing for cosmetics was banned in the EU and an EU–wide ban on the sale of cosmetics products containing ingredients tested on
animals went into effect. The ban is not yet complete—it allows some kinds of tests to
continue until 2013, and there may be loopholes that could lead to other tests
in some circumstances. However, the sales ban means that cosmetics testing has effectively
ended in the EU and that even products tested elsewhere cannot be sold in the
EU. This approach makes it one of the most enlightened and ambitious pieces of
legislation on animal testing anywhere in the world and has helped drive
innovation and the development of new, highly effective non-animal testing
methods that are now being used to replace animals in experiments all around the
world. UPDATE: There is a threat that the 2013 deadline could be pushed back, and PETA's European affiliates are
already working hard to prevent any delay.
While the situation in Europe is far from perfect, progress is being
made. With your help, we can bring about a day when one step forward for
animals in laboratories does not also mean two steps back. Get the facts and
the information you need to help animals here.
PETA India works to
replace animals in medical and veterinary training, in product testing, and in government-funded
laboratories. As a result of PETA India's efforts, the Pharmacy Council of India now recommends the use of superior
non-animal tools such as computer-aided education in labs and examinations and
the Medical Council of India has removed the requirement for animal use in
training. The removal of this requirement will enable the replacement of
animals in medical school curricula with sophisticated alternatives.
India's campaign to replace the use of animals in dissection with effective
software led to a decision by the University Grants Committee, the university
system's apex regulatory body, to advise all Indian universities to end
dissection at the undergraduate level.
India worked with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to accept an alternative
to the painful Draize
test for skin irritation testing in cosmetics, detergents, and dishwashing liquid
soaps. In addition, the BIS agreed to stop tests on animals
for known ingredients used to manufacture cosmetics and is urging companies to
end all tests on animals for cosmetics.
India continues to work with government officials to bring India in line
with internationally accepted testing methods. This effort got a boost in March 2011, when India was invited to
become a member of the OECD, enabling PETA India to participate in ICAPO. Animal testing is
reduced, refined, and replaced when OECD test guidelines are used, allowing
member countries to accept tests without duplication, even when countries have
varying regulatory requirements.
India has exposed dreadful conditions for animals in laboratories, including
laboratories at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where monkeys
were confined alone for many years to rusty, cramped cages in violation of
Indian law. Following PETA India's three-year campaign, AIIMS suspended all
experiments on monkeys and sheep until improvements were made and agreed to
retire six monkeys immediately, to rehabilitate others for retirement, and to
relocate the rest of the monkeys from barren individual cages to a spacious
enclosure where these social animals can live together.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.