Ban on animal testing of marine algal toxins

Publisert 10.01.2013

After several years of hard work by the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, all routine animal testing of algal toxins was banned from 1st July 2011. These procedures were considered to be some of the most painful animal experiments being performed in Norway.

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After several years of hard work by the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, all routine animal testing of algal toxins was banned from 1st July 2011. These procedures were considered to be some of the most painful animal experiments being performed in Norway.

While many consider mussels and scallops to be delicacies, these bivalve molluscs may contain toxins. Three types of animal testing of algal toxins exist. One of these has long been banned in Norway, and another was banned after pressure from the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance in 2007. The third test was finally banned in 2011.

Painful experiments

During the testing, mice weighing about 20 grams are injected with approximately one millilitre of acid into the abdomen. Scientists reviewing the methods have compared this to injecting approximately three litres of vinegar into the stomach of a human adult weighing 60 kilograms. Following this, the mice were exposed to the potentially toxic testing substance. The tests can cause severe pain.

- These animal experiments are both painful and unnecessary, and were performed on many animals each year. This is why the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance has prioritised this work towards a ban, explains biologist and CEO, Anton Krag.

Chemical testing provides more secure alternative

In 2007, it was established by the Norwegian Animal Research Authority that the animal testing of algal toxins is a scientifically unsuitable method. The chemical methods provide much safer results than animal testing. Chemical testing was developed at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science several years before the ban, and the methods have for food safety reasons been utilised for several years alongside animal testing.

EU regulations inhibited the use of alternatives to animal testing

The Norwegian authorities refused to introduce a ban on the animal testing, despite alternative methods being available. The reason for this is rigid EU regulations, which have been interpreted to ban the use of chemical testing. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority considered potential commercial problems for the Norwegian mollusc trade as more important than the excruciating pain inflicted onto these animals.

Complaints and pressure form the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance

In 2006, The Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance launched a complaint against the licensing of these animal experiments. The Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance provided an interpretation of the EU regulations, which would allow for or make mandatory the use of chemical testing methods for algal toxins.

Scientists in bivalve mollusc producing countries from all over the world were contacted, all of which provided resounding approval of the chemical testing procedure as more reliable than animal tests.

Simultaneously, the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, together with other European animal welfare organisations, pressured the EU to clarify the testing practice.

EU bans animal testing of bivalve molluscs

The EU has decided to ban these painful animal tests. The ban follows many years of campaigning by the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, who have worked for the ban with international scientists and animal welfare organisations.

- We have worked in Norway by appealing against the licensing of these animal experiments, and by lobbying towards the Parliament, the ministries and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, says legal advisor in the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, Live Kleveland.

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