I’m getting a little more serious this week with a post all about animal testing in the UK and what Brexit could mean for that…
With 1 in 2 households owning a pet throughout the UK we can definitely claim the status of a nation of animal lovers. Over 20 million pets are part of families and they would be proud knowing that over £200m is donated to the RSPCA and RSPB every year to combat animal cruelty; proving the importance of animal welfare to the British community.
In 2013, the EU was the first to recognise that animals are sentient beings and not just a means for human benefit. The Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, amending the ‘Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union’ and introduced the recognition that animals are sentient beings. Four years later, after everlasting campaigning from animal rights groups, the EU subsequently banned the sale of animal-tested cosmetics within its borders. This was achieved with the implementation of the updated Cosmetics Regulation. The new legislation was introduced after the EU Commission rightly had to start working with the cosmetics industry in order to develop more alternatives to animal testing, with over €238m (around £210m) allocated to such research in 2007-2011.
The Law states:
“The Protocol on protection and welfare of animals annexed to the Treaty provides that the Community and the Member States are to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals in the implementation of Community policies, in particular with regard to the internal market.”
The EU has some of the strongest laws across the globe with regard to animal rights. After the blanket ban on cosmetic animal testing, the EU also:
- Ended the use of Great Apes in research.
- Banned the import of dog and cat fur.
- Banned the trade of seal products (the EU has nothing against the musician!)
- Banned the use of veal crates for calves and narrow sow stalls for pigs.
- Banned the use of battery cages for hens.
- Passed a motion to crackdown on the illegal ivory trade.
However, with Brexit quickly looming, many animal rights activists are concerned that such EU legislation may be at risk and the UK, no longer a member of the European Union, will regress in terms of animal rights.
Only 14 MPs voted against the crackdown on the ivory trade, while 647 supported it. Of these 14 MPs, 6 were made up of Nigel Farage and his UKIP colleagues, despite the party claiming to take animal welfare seriously. A strong advocate for the Leave Campaign, Nigel Farage would potentially play a large part in ending this EU animal welfare legislation.
This is of particular concern if the UK conducts a trade deal with the USA, as the country of stars and stripes still allows animal testing on cosmetics and doesn’t seem to be moving away from this anytime soon. Members of the public need reassurance from parliament that a quick trade deal with the USA will not result in any weakening of this sales ban and that cruel cosmetics will forever remain a thing of the past.
Once the UK has left the EU, we are no longer bound by European Union Law and, according to animal welfare experts, the World Trade Organisation also has the potential to overturn any such restrictions.
Despite such laws aimed at ending animal cruelty, there are still four million procedures conducted on live rodents, pigs, horses, cats, dogs and other creatures across the UK every year. Such experiments include tests to satisfy legislation on the safety of food and industrial household chemicals. As claimed by The Independent, Cruelty-Free International, an animal welfare group, states that as such figures are still so high, the new Home Office statistics underlined the need that laws should not be relaxed in relation to live tests as the government begins to the EU’s regulatory regime.
Michelle Thew, chief executive of Cruelty-Free International said: “It is disappointing that there is as yet no minister responsible for animal experiments. We strongly urge the Government not to forget animals in laboratories, and to use Brexit as an opportunity to make a real impact in reducing the numbers of animals used in tests.”
The EU is far from perfect, but if animals could vote, they would have voted Remain.
(I know Apollo would’ve)
Lydia & Apollo