Scientific experiments using cats, dogs, and primates will no longer be legal in Belgium’s Brussels-Capital Region starting on Jan. 1, 2020.
In addition, beginning on Jan. 1, 2025, the area, which includes the city of Brussels and 18 municipalities, will prohibit all types of educational and safety tests involving animals except in rare cases where there are no other alternatives available and the experiments are of absolute importance.
According to VegNews, the ban came about after two animal-rights organizations, London-based Cruelty Free International and Brussels-based Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), aggressively campaigned for it.
“This is brilliant news from Belgium,” said Michelle Thew, the chief executive of Cruelty Free International. “It goes to show that it is possible for governments to move away from the use of animals in experiments. I would call upon the United Kingdom government to look at what has happened in Brussels-Capital and follow suit.”
“With this decision, GAIA witnesses the achievement of one of its key priorities during this political term,” said Michel Vandenbosch, the president of GAIA.
“Unfortunately, the original target to reduce the total amount of laboratory animals in the region by 30 percent by 2025 has been readjusted to 20 percent. If this target is met, approximately 20,000 laboratory animals will be spared.
It’s a good start, and we’ve achieved one of our main goals as well, however a lot of work remains to be done.”
One Green Planet said that there are now many state-of-the-art alternatives to animal testing available for scientists and researchers to use.
“The emphasis should be put on making that switch possible for as many laboratories and facilities as possible,” said the eco-conscious website.
“The development of alternative testing methods is fortunately growing — and it not only makes science more humane, but also improves the general quality and effectiveness of the experiments.”
Brussels is a city taking many positive steps to end animal cruelty.
In 2017, VegNews reported that the European town was following the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Turkey, and the U.K. by banning the production of foie gras.
The gourmet food item, considered a delicacy, is made by force-feeding ducks and geese, using a tube, until their livers swell up to 10 times their normal size, a process known as gavage.
“Force-feeding boils down to torture, [and] I cannot permit it,” Bianca Debaets, Brussels’ Secretary of State of Animal Welfare, said at the time.
Foie gras can still be sold in Brussels, however.