Third Successful ECI in History Submitted – Despite Major Flaws in ECI Rules

2014-11-27 News

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The ECI “Stop Vivisection” – the third of only three ECIs to date to pass the 1 million signature threshold – announced its submission to the Commission yesterday. The initiative was presented by the organizers in a press conference hosted by MEPs Fabio Massimo Castaldo (Five Star Movement), Michele Rivasi (Greens), and Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The official representative of this ECI, André Menache, a British veterinary surgeon, together with several scientists, urged the European institutions to put an end to animal testing and to replace it with scientifically based biomedical research.

Studies conducted by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that 92% of the drugs that prove to be effective and safe when tested on animals are not subsequently approved in clinical trials because they do not have the desired effect in humans, or have deleterious side-effects. Up to half of the approved drugs are later taken off the market or have warnings attached to them because of side-effects. According to Ménache: “Animal testing is more harmful to us than useful”.

MEP Stefan Eck stressed the point that 70% of citizens are against animal testing – but this is not yet reflected in the parliament and the decision-making process. Michele Rivasi and Fabio Massimo Castaldo agreed that in parallel with the successful ECI the attempt should be made to collect signatures from a majority of MEPs in order to stop vivisection.

This ECI was created by a loose coalition of individual animal rights activists and national animal protection groups. Despite a limited budget of only €14,501, this grassroots campaign collected over 1.3 million signatures with the help of extraordinarily dedicated volunteers and effective social media. It encountered low citizen awareness of the ECI instrument and unease at sharing personal data through the official support formats.

The ECI’s launch was delayed by six months due to problems with the official online collection system (OCS) and was already finalized in November 2013. However several member states have still not certified all the support statements. This means de facto that this ECI has collected even more signatures than the number submitted. Given that the new Commission is in place only now has also contributed to the decision to submit that late.

Ultimately, 1,170,326 signatures were certified of those which the citizens’ committee submitted. (More here on the distribution of signatures per country.) The Commission will have three months to examine the “Stop Vivisection” proposal and will respond in a public hearing organized at the European Parliament.

For more background:
* Report by Adriano Varrica, campaign coordinator of “Stop Vivisection” in our publication “An ECI That Works!”
* Official website of Stop Vivisection
* Our Recommendations how to improve the ECI instrument