Thursday, 5 February 2004

Ceisteanna (103)

John Gormley

Ceist:

103 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on an end to animal experiments and vivisection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3515/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

The use of live animals in scientific research and other experimental activity is strictly controlled in accordance with the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876, as amended by the European Communities (Amendment of Cruelty to Animals Act 1876) Regulations 2002. I signed these regulations in December 2002 for the purpose of giving full effect to Council Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. One of the objectives of the directive is to reduce the numbers of animals used for experiments by encouraging the development and the validation of alternative methods to replace animal methods. The Act, as amended, provides,inter alia, that an experiment shall not be performed if another scientifically satisfactory method of obtaining the result sought, not entailing the use of an animal, is reasonably and practicably available. Directive 86/609/EEC is currently under review at European level and a number of issues are being examined, including the further promotion of the development of alternative methods. My Department has nominated a representative to the technical expert working group dealing with the review.

The European Commission established the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, ECVAM. ECVAM was established to promote the scientific and regulatory acceptance of alternative methods which are of importance to the biosciences and which reduce, refine or replace the use of laboratory animals. Ireland supports the work of ECVAM and is represented on its scientific advisory committee. My Department will continue to monitor developments in this area.