Some of you would have seen the pictures of packs of dogs sniffing around Parliament last week. They came to hand a petition over to me calling for animal testing to be ruled out of the legal high legislation currently being considered by Parliament.
The amount of media and people that came to the handover was in no doubt helped by these dogs’ happy faces and wagging tails. Many of these dogs were rescued from an animal testing facility and are learning to how be dogs again rather than lab animals. But the seriousness of the issue couldn’t be avoided. If we don’t specifically rule it out, animals will be used to test the safety of legal highs, even though those tests are cruel and unnecessary.
Many people made a submission to the Health Select Committee on this issue but the Chair ruled them all out of scope, so none of their submissions were heard by the MPs discussing the bill. We thought that was not right and so held our own hearings to make their evidence public.
We left the dogs outside while we went in to hear a range of great submissions on why animal testing needs to be addressed in this bill.
The key points that submitters made were:
- animal testing causes suffering and policy makers should work to avoid it wherever possible
- if not directed otherwise, manufacturers will use data from animal testing to prove product safety as it is cheaper
- data from animal testing is often of a lesser quality than data from non-animal testing, and reliance on it can put human health at risk
- the Psychoactive Substances Bill is the appropriate legal mechanism to deal with the quality and nature of evidence used to assure safety
- the Animal Welfare Act is unable to address the issue of animal testing in other countries.
We have now compiled these key arguments in a report which we will have provided to all of the members of the Health Select Committee so they have the evidence they need to make the best decisions on this bill. You can read the report of the hearings on our website.
I have put forward an amendment to the bill which already has support from many of the other parties and I am working hard to try and get support from across the aisle as well so that we can rule out the use of data gained through animal testing.