Animal rights groups in Switzerland are calling to stop animal testing in Switzerland through a people’s initiative on February 13.
The call is for a full ban on tests on all living beings. Their plan, which will be presented to a public vote this February, was deemed too radical by parliament, which believed it would impede Swiss medical and scientific research in Switzerland.
What’s the big deal?
Swiss voters will be asked to pass a law that would stop animal testing for the fourth time in the country’s history. They have already voted down three people’s initiatives on the subject: in 1985 (70 percent opposed), 1992 (56 percent opposed), and 1993 (72 percent against). The most recent initiative wants to outlaw all animal and human research, as well as the importation of any new items created via such testing.
Is it common in Switzerland to do animal testing?
According to data from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, around 600,000 animals were used for studies each year over the last decade, although this figure is rapidly decreasing. In 2020, a total of 550,107 species were tested in Swiss laboratories, with rats (52,000), birds (66,000), and mice accounting for the great majority (346,000).
It’s difficult to establish international comparisons since each country has its own system of measuring the number of animals utilized in research. In 2019, scientists in Germany and France experimented on 2.9 million and 1.8 million animals, respectively, according to government statistics.
The majority of animal experiments in Switzerland are carried out by corporations and universities. Basic biology research, such as the testing of scientific theories or the harvesting of cells and organs, accounted for more than 60% of these operations in 2020.
What is the current law on animal testing?
The federal animal protection law, which took effect in 2008, is one of the most stringent and comprehensive in the world. Every scientific experiment, as well as any animal confinement, requires a permit. The benefits to society must be proven to balance the misery that has been inflicted.
From degree 0 (no limits on the animals) such as observational studies to degree 3 (severe constraints) such as observational studies, “degrees of severity” are used to decide if animal testing is truly essential (such as deliberately transplanting malignant tumors).
Furthermore, only if there is no other way to answer the research topic is experimenting allowed. Replace (find another means to experiment), reduce (limit the number of animals used), and refine (minimise the suffering of the animals as much as possible) are the 3R principles that regulate the use of animals in research.
What are the demands of people’s initiative?
All experimentation on live beings on Swiss land, according to the text of the proposal, should be stopped. Animals would no longer be used for training reasons or fundamental scientific study as a result of this.
Human experimentation is also a goal of this program, however it is unclear if it relates simply to medicine and biology or to psychology, sociology, and sports science as well.
Imports of new items or components generated through animal research should also be prohibited, according to the proposal. It demands that research that does not include animal testing receive at least as much public financing as research that does.
Who are in favor to stop animal testing?
A citizens’ organization in eastern Switzerland, which comprises a naturopath, a doctor, and an organic farmer, initiated the effort. It is backed by more than 80 organizations and businesses dedicated to animal welfare, environmental conservation, and alternative medicine.
Mistreatment of animals and humans who are unable to provide informed permission, according to the initiative committee, is “intolerable.” “Many meta-studies show that neither animals nor humans can provide reliable evidence for another species,” it says in its arguments. While the committee does not want to outright restrict human experimentation, it does intend to progress knowledge by combining ways that focus on the patient rather than inflicting pain.
Despite the fact that the 3R principle has been operational for at least half a century, the committee is dissatisfied with the fact that the number of animal studies has remained constant over the last 25 years. Their proposal, they say, will foster innovation and “make giant steps in research, medicine, medical tourism in Switzerland, and human maturity”.
Who are opposed to stop animal testing?
Citizens should vote “no” according to the government. Furthermore, not a single member of parliament has endorsed the proposal. Because the existing legislation was deemed acceptable, Parliament didn’t even come up with any counter-proposal to it. The idea is viewed as excessively radical by all major parties, however the Liberal Greens, Greens, and Social Democrats would prefer to see more funds go to research that creates or uses animal testing alternatives.
Swissuniversities, the umbrella organization for higher education institutions, and the Swiss National Science Foundation’s National Research Council have also spoken out against the idea. A similar idea is rejected by the Swiss Society for the Protection of Animals, which would want to see more alternative ways promoted.
Opponents of the project are concerned that a variety of medications will no longer be manufactured or imported into Switzerland. Their argument says: “This country would be cut of from global medical progress, which would have serious consequences for the health of both of humans and animals.” The importance of pharmaceutical research and development for Switzerland is frequently emphasized by opponents. They claim that if the country stopped using animals for research, it would lose its appeal, and a huge number of corporations and research programs would undoubtedly relocate.