Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
13 December 2000

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 treaty.

Noam Lazarus
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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