A new European Commission ‘Eurobarometer’ survey analysing the attitude of European citizens to science and technologies has found marked divisions in opinion as to whether researchers should experiment on animals even if this research can claim to lead to benefits for human health. This survey seeks to identify changes in attitude towards science by comparing its finding with earlier polls from 2001 and 2005.
The divisions in opinion are particularly marked in terms of the species of the animals used in experiments. When asked whether scientists should be allowed to experiment on larger animals like dogs and monkeys for the improvement of human health and wellbeing, only 44% of respondents agree, and 37% disagree. In the UK the figures are even closer - 44% agree, and 42% disagree when it comes to testing on dogs and primates. While in Finland, Slovenia, Luxembourg and France, more than 50% of respondents say they disagree with such experiments.
These results reflect those of an opinion poll carried out last year by leading polling company YouGov in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Czech Republic in the context of the revision of the EU legislation on animal experiments. It showed strong public support (79%) against animal use not relating to serious or life-threatening human conditions.
The citizens surveyed also strongly rejected the possiblity that the new law could allow suffering and pain on cats and dogs while 81% agreed the new legislation should prohibit all experiments causing pain or suffering to primates.
In the context of the revision of the current EU Directive on the protection of animals used in experiments (Directive 86/609/EEC), the outcomes of the Eurobarometer survey prove once again that there is an obvious gap between the claims of the scientific community about animal use and public opinion about the issue.
24 June 2010