Brief note

An ethics for the living world: operation methods of Animal Ethics Committees in Italy


Introduction and objectives.  Coinciding  with  the  recent  implementation  in  Italy  of the “Directive 2010/63/EU, regarding the protection of animals used for scientific pur-poses”, the Authors would like to analyse the topic of the introduction of ethical com-mittees for animal experimentation in Italy. This paper furthermore aims to underline some critical aspects concerning the actions taken by Italian institutions to comply with the provisions of EU.
Results and discussion. The implementation of the recent Italian law (Decreto Legisla-tivo n. 26 on 4 March 2014 Implementation of the Directive 2010/63/EU on the protec-tion of animals used for scientific purposes) leans towards a restrictive interpretation of the European provisions about composition and responsibilities of “Ethical Committee for Animal Experimentation”. In the composition of the bodies mentioned, we note a tendency to restrict the composition to few professional figures contemplated by Ital-ian law, without guaranteeing the independence of each committee; also, an absence of hierarchical relationship between a research institution and his committee is apparent. Moreover, a critical aspect is the lack of decision-making powers of these new organisms in terms of ethical evaluation of protocols and research projects.
Conclusions. What EU legislation imposes on the member states is to set up an animal-welfare body (art. 26). This represents a strong incentive for Italy to follow the steps of many other European Countries, where ad hoc ethical committees have been working for a long time. The proper functioning of these bodies may contribute to guarantee the safety and welfare of the animals inside the laboratories, and to balance the protection of animal life and the interests of research. 


animal experimentation; Italian Ethical Committee on Animal Experimentation; animal welfare; ethics of animal experimentation; Italy

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