The National does not want a ban on animal testing. All parties reject the popular initiative to ban these methods of medical research. The idea of a counter-project is debated.
Launched in 2017 by citizens of St. Welsh, the initiative proposes to replace the current practice with more ethical alternative methods. It also provides for the prohibition of trade, import and export of products directly or indirectly the subject of experiments on animals.
Animal welfare is important, but the initiative is too radical, stressed Martin Haab (UDC / ZH) for the committee. It would have significant consequences on the quality of care in Switzerland. The population and its economy would be deprived of essential drugs, said Simone De Montmollin (PLR / GE).
No vaccine against Covid-19
Without tests on animals, vaccines against the coronavirus developed abroad would not have been authorized in Switzerland with this text, according to Lilian Studer (Center / AG). The ban on importing new products developed using these methods is indeed particularly problematic, added Valérie Piller Carrard (PS / FR).
Beyond the Covid-19 crisis, all Swiss research is isolated, according to several speakers. Human experiments would also be prohibited, noted Fabien Fivaz (Verts / NE), which would pose big problems for clinical studies in Switzerland, such as sleep diseases.
It would mark the end of research in multiple fields such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, according to Christian Wasserfallen (PLR / BE). We should also take into account the brain drain, according to Thomas De Courten (UDC / BL).
The left for a counter-project
But the left, the Greens and the PVL do not want to stop there. According to them, research without animals must be developed. But, for Isabelle Chevalley (PVL / VD), the financial resources invested in 3R research which plans to reduce the number of experiments on animals and limit the constraints imposed on them are ridiculously low.
The “Advancing 3R – animals, research and society” program is currently endowed with 20 million francs over five years. In comparison, “there is always 200 million per year of public money for animal experimentation”, denounced the Vaudoise.
Animal research is often not transferable to humans. We need a gradual exit from these old methods by anchoring support for 3R research in the law for a long time, she argued. Substitute methods must already be used and animal research is only conducted if there is no alternative, the right countered.
The PS and the Greens, opposed to the initiative, have proposed more precise counter-projects. There is already a change underway, noted Meret Schneider (Verts / ZH). But to reduce animal suffering to a minimum, we must dare to end this type of experimentation. But the SVP, the PLR and the Center are opposed to it.
The Federal Council also recommends that the initiative be rejected without a counter-proposal. According to him, the law in force is severe enough to protect the animal.
The number of animal experiments is falling steadily in Switzerland. They still amounted to two million in 1983, but more than 572,100 in 2019. Since 2009, the number of tests has decreased by 17%. While there are slightly fewer animals being tested with little or no stress, the number of those used for heavy to medium heavy experiments has increased.
Posted today at 10:39 a.m.