The Helsinki Treaty
from Noam Lazarus - [email protected]
The Israeli Society for Abolition of Vivisection of Vivisection (ISAV)
is proud to announce that the International Helsinki treaty does not
require experiments on animals any longer.
Dr. Andre Menache, an Israeli veterinarian who has been working for
many years against experiments on animals and for the use of other
non-animal research methods, has succeeded in changing the Helsinki
treaty. The treaty, which is used as a regulatory model in the eye of
many governments and research institutions around the world, had
determined in the past that animal experiments are required in order to
perform experiments on humans, in the way of creating new pharmaceutical
drugs and procedures.
Now, as the association overseeing the treaty has agreed to make
changes to the treaty version which Dr. Menache had suggested, the
treaty determines that experiments on animals are not necessary in the
way to perform experiments on humans and that other laboratory
experiments, as well as proved and relevant information, can be used
instead of experimenting on animals.
ISAV applauds this new change and encourages other organizations
around the world to negotiate with their local governments and research
institutions to act upon the new changes that have been made to the
Israeli Society for Abolition of Vivisection
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Please see enclosed article for further information:
Haaretz Israeli national newspaper (translated from Hebrew)
Wednesday, November 8, 2000
Ethically speaking, the obligation to perform experiments on animals
has been canceled
Israeli Veterinarian had succeeded in changing the Helsinki Treaty
By Zafrir Rinat
Dr. Andre Menache, an Israeli veterinarian, had succeeded in making a
change to the Helsinki Treaty, which might have consequences on the
policy of medical research institutions towards experiments on animals.
The change to the treaty which has been proposed by Dr. Menache,
practically revokes the obligation to perform experiments on animals as
a condition to perform experiments on humans. However, the declaration
is not legally obligating in nature.
The Helsinki treaty determines ethical principles to medical research
which involves human beings, and is very influential on the research
policies of research institutions around the world.
Until recently the first principle of the treaty determined that
"medical research in humans must be consistent with usual scientific
principles and MUST be based upon experiments that were carried out in a
laboratory and experiments on animals". The accepted meaning of this
principle was that experiments on animals are a necessary step in the
way to experiments on humans.
Dr. Menache suggested a correction to this principle which mandates
that experiments on humans would be based upon "experiments in a
laboratory which were carried out properly and other suitable
assessments that have been independently proved as relevant and
credible". The new version was approved in an International congress for
alternatives to experiments on animals, and was delivered to the world
medical association which is responsible for the written version of the
Helsinki treaty. The association has finally approved a new version
which determines that experiments [on humans] would be based on
laboratory experiments and other relevant sources, and only if needed
experiments on animals as well.
In Noah's opinion, which is a coalition of animal welfare
organizations in Israel, this is a very significant change which also
requires a change in the policy of research institutions in Israel.
Noah's legal advisor, the Israeli lawyer Euhd Peleg, sent this week a
letter to the chairperson of the Israeli ministry of health, in which he
had asked to guide all the research institutions in Israel and educate
them about the meaning of the change in the Helsinki treaty, which
cancels the automatic need in experiments on animals previous to
experiments on humans. He had also asked that the ministry of health
accordingly fix the old version of the Helsinki treaty which appears in
the Israeli regulations of public health.
Today, researchers continue to perform a variety of experiments on
animals in Israel and around the world. In the last two years, Israel
approved experiments on 134,000 animals. These experiments involve
(among others) exposing different animals to different substances in
order to determine the toxicity of medical and cosmetics products,
infecting non-human primates with Parkinson disease as well as others
diseases, to research it, and causing burns to guinea-pigs in order to
determine the efficiency of a product that treats burns.
An Israeli governmental committee acting to regulate experiments on
animals according to the Israeli Anti-Cruelty law was supposed to
approve alternatives to animal experiments but until today, had never
approved even one. According to the animal protection groups the
committee is ignoring such alternatives that have been developed around
the world and is basing its decisions according to the American Food and
Drug administration which did not approve any non-animal research
methods up until today.
According to Dr. Menache, one of the barriers in developing
non-animal research methods up until now, was the text of the Helsinki
treaty which mandated experiments on animals. "The treaty does not carry
a legal obligation" he says, "but it has a large psychological influence
on the authorities which decide on the regulations of developing
medicine and medical procedures".
In the U.S.A this barrier in approving non-animal research methods
had been broken when two government agencies approved for the first
time, the use of alternatives to animal experiments. The administration
of safety and occupational health and the Environment Protection Agency
approved the use of synthetic skin instead of live rabbits, in order to
check the health influence of chemical substances. On the other hand,
the FDA agreed only to limit the number of experiments on animals
together with the use of the synthetic skin.
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