The Parliament of the Netherlands was the first in the world to have representation of a political party that puts the interests of non-human animals and the planet at the centre of its policies: on 22 November 2006 the Party for the Animals got two seats. The Partij voor de Dieren has now a total of 50 seats in the Senate, the Lower House, the provinces, water boards, municipal councils, and one seat in the European Parliament.
As I’ve started to re-acquaint myself with the French language, the first foreign language I learned, I am taking the opportunity of reading about the French Animal Party in French – not much about it is available in English anyway. (With thanks to Google for help with translating the odd word that I don’t understand)
The party program (not available in English) includes, for example, demands to incorporate animal protection and rights in the constitution, the creation of a ministry for animal protection, no-kill animal shelters, the prohibition of financial profit from the transfer of pets, compulsory health insurance for pets, an end to zoos and keeping dolphins captive, a ban on hunting, and the protection of habitats of wild animals.
In regard to so-called food animals, mutilation practices such as beak trimming and dehorning are to be prohibited, as well as the practice of force-feeding, the grinding of chicks and ducklings, and breeding that results in suffering (such as fast-growing chickens). Prohibition should also apply to the killing of animals with CO2, and live export to non-EU countries. Cameras should be installed in slaughterhouses and controlled by an independent authority. There are also various suggestions for the promotion of a plant-based diet.
While the above is an incomplete list of examples, I will translate the program as it relates to animal experimentation in full below:
Establish a national agency for non-animal methods
The aim of this agency will be to facilitate the transition from experimental animal research to non-animal methods; it will be responsible for coordinating all the devices and methods, ensuring their application and evaluating their results.
- Support innovation and the development of alternative methods to animal testing, initiating calls for projects – particularly in the orphan areas* – and using European schemes such as “Horizon 2020“.
- Develop translational research that makes it possible to move from the stage of scientific discovery to the development of a product or a “routine” alternative method.
- Support research laboratories in their material and methodological transition towards experimental methods that do not use animals.
Develop training in non-animal methods
- Put in place the conditions for the retraining of researchers through training on non-animal methods (development of training modules with the national research agency, incentives for retraining for public sector researchers, supporting publications, etc.) and to build training modules specifically dedicated to experts participating in national (or European) bodies.
- Create multidisciplinary degree courses focusing on non-animal methods for research students (biology, medicine, pharmacology-toxicology etc.).
- Prohibit animal experiments in higher education and replace them with other teaching methods (synthetic mannequins, 3D models, videos, etc.).
Drive evolution at European level
- Promote at European level a review of the validation procedures for new non-animal methods so that more new methods can be validated within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. Further, the creation in the EU of laboratories dedicated to the pre-validation of methods should be promoted.
- Promote the creation of a European data bank on alternative methods for animal testing.
- Introduce into REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 an obligation to use validated non-animal methods for testing chemical substances.
Improve the transposition into French law of Directive 2010/63/EU in order to allow its full implementation
- Respect the obligation to publish non-technical abstracts and a posteriori** evaluations in order to ensure transparency.
- Changing the composition of ethics committees in animal experiments, which are responsible for issuing opinions on the appropriateness of experimental procedures (Article R 214-118 of the Rural Code) in order to guarantee the impartiality of decisions and the absence of conflicts of interest.
- Establish a National Committee for the Protection of Animals used for scientific purposes (provided for in Article 49).
Improve the protection of animals used for research
- Put in place regular and unannounced checks that result in effective and inhibitive penalties for unlawful experiments (in accordance with Article 60 of the European Directive).
- Grant unrestricted access rights to breeding and laboratory animal facilities to the animal protection associations referred to in Article 2-13 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- Ban the capture and import of wild animals to laboratories.
- Establish a moratorium on animal breeding for laboratories (prohibit the installation of new breeding facilities and the extension of existing ones).
* orphan areas – not commercially viable areas
** a posteriori – based on reasoning and evidence rather than assumptions or predictions
Partij voor de Dieren (2016) Plan B (in Dutch; program for parliamentary elections in 2017).
Il est là! Le premier parti animaliste français (YouTube video clip from the launch of Parti Animaliste on 14 Nov 2016)