On Friday 22 May the Intergroup Members , Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE), Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL, NL),  Emil Radev (EFDD, IT) , Marco Zullo (EFDD, IT) as well as Andrea Busetto, Assistant of Mr Zullo, Sandra Gabriel, Assistant of Mr Eck and Karolina Tomaczewska, Political Adviser for animal welfare policy of Mr Wojciechowski have visited the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre – JRC in Ispra, Italy following an invitation by Maurice Whelan , Head of Unit  of the EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM).

The visit was initiated by Eurogroup for Animals. Its purpose was to inform Members of the Intergroup , of the activities of EURL ECVAM and the progress being made both in Europe and internationally on the alternative methods. This visit provided the opportunity for MEPs to meet and discuss with experts in the field and to see how further progress can be made.


  • Visit of the New Information Centre of the JRC
  • Introduction to the JRC and the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP)
  1. Maruszewski, Director
  • Video link address by Šucha, Director General JRC
  • Introduction to EURL ECVAM
  1. Whelan, Head of Unit Systems Toxicology
  • Presentation of EURL ECVAM activities
  • Visit to EURL ECVAM Laboratories

ECVAM (The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods) was created in 1991 by the Commission following adoption of Directive 86/609/EEC which required that the Commission and the Member States should actively support the development, validation and acceptance of methods which could reduce, refine or replace the use of laboratory animals. Through the new directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, 2010/63/EU, the remit of EURL ECVAM has been extended much further than their role in the validation process of alternative methods. They however decided to keep the acronym ECVAM as it was internationally recognised but this has caused some confusion. They now have a more diverse focus where validation only forms a part of the activities.

EURL ECVAM employs nearly 70 people, representing over 20 of the EU Member States, with relevant scientific expertise. From the informative presentations given and interactive discussions it was clear that EURL ECVAM is committed to the 3Rs. Their work is science based and they work towards the advancement of techniques, improving quality of science without detriment to human health and the environment.

They have state-of-the-art laboratories with highly precise equipment carrying out a vast array of experiments, including high throughput screening which is rapid and accurate.  Focus is placed on a number of initiatives, like webinar trainings, reports, developing and carrying out strategies all to further develop and disseminate work on alternative methods. In addition they have produced a search guide on how to use databases to find high quality information on relevant alternative strategies and methods. It is one of the most used of the EU documents and has even been translated externally into non EU languages due to its success. It outlines 7 golden steps which are being used as the standard approach in biomedical research. The work of ECVAM goes beyond the EU to the international level and they have active participation, chairing numerous activities at the level of the OECD and involvement in the ICATM (International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods).

The MEPs voiced their appreciation of the visit and were impressed with the work being undertaken.

Maurice Whelan, Head of EURL ECVAM expressed his own views of the visit stating ’we (EURL ECVAM) got a lot out of the visit ourselves and found the exchanges very informative indeed. We appreciated too the open and engaging nature of all the MEPs and the interest they showed in our activities.

Request by EURL ECVAM for MEPs to:

  • Call for more research and investment upstream for alternatives
  • Member States to support EU-Netval (European Union Network of Laboratories for the Validation of Alternative Methods)
  • Keep up the pressure on regulatory acceptance where the scientific community play an active role

Recommendations by the Intergroup:

The changing structure and functioning of EURL ECVAM is not always obvious or clear to an outsider who takes an interest in the topic and their work. It was therefore agreed that to better inform people, there is a need to produce some information material specifically tailored for an audience, including Parliamentarians, that describes aspects of the work and specific issues surrounding alternatives methods to animal testing.

The Intergroup appeals to the Commission and Member States for the commitment to provide more resources for the development of alternative methods to work towards the ultimate goal of replacement of animal use.

Link to PowerPoint presentations given by the JRC staff

Prof. Dr. Krzysztof Maruszewski: The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection

Maurice Whelan: The EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM)

Clemens Wittwehr: Making biological and toxicological knowledge available to facilitate the use of alternative approaches

Valérie Zuang: Validation in view of regulatory acceptance of alterntive methods

Annett. J. Roi: Reaching the research community: Dissemination of information on alternative methods



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