Sir – MEPs have backed a series of measures that could set animal protection back decades.

Members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee voted through a number of amendments that seriously weaken proposals from the European Commission to regulate animal testing across Europe. This is a tragedy.

MEPs are claiming to protect laboratory animals, whilst simultaneously slashing protections proposed by the European Commission, which they spent years developing in consultation with all parties.

Many people thought MEPs would strengthen these proposals and stand up to industry lobbyists, instead the Commission proposals are being torn apart.

Some of the amendments voted through include allowing animals to suffer severe and prolonged pain, allowing almost unlimited re-use of animals, the ending of almost all licensing of experiments – making the majority of animal research a free-for-all, and reducing the scientific justification needed to experiment on monkeys.

Even measures to prevent lab animal dealers from trapping wild monkeys have been slashed. This completely goes against public and political will, that wherever possible, animal research should be replaced by advanced techniques. Eighty per cent of European citizens find primate research unacceptable, and in 2007, 55 per cent of MEPs voted for an early end to the use of great apes and wild-caught primates, and for a phase-out of all primate use.

Animals and members of the public have been badly let down.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive, National Anti-Vivisection Society/Animal Defenders International, London