The ethical, scientific and legal position of animals
- The concept of dignity in animal welfare legislation must be regarded as quite distinct from the concept of human dignity, because the problems of differentiation established in legislation order (e.g. “justified” invasion of the dignity of the creature, Article 4 Para. 2 Animal Welfare Act (TSchG)) cannot be resolved in any other way.
- The concept of dignity in Article 120 BV must be interpreted in relation to the field concerned.
- No level of research (basic research, applied research) may be categorically excluded from the admissible purposes of animal experiments. Apart from the difficultly of differentiating between these two levels in the field of medical research, applied research is generally impossible without basic research. The latter is not an end in itself, but provides the basis for taking ideas a step further. At the same time, classifying a study as basic research does not in itself justify the use of animals. The necessity must be demonstrated just as much as the decision-making procedure (weighing the negative aspects against the benefits) that is necessary to achieve the objective of the research.
- The normative requirement to distinguish between “animals lower on the evolutionary scale” and “animals higher on the evolutionary scale” is based on an assumption about classification which is scientifically uncertain. But as long as this normative requirement applies, it must be borne in mind that it has to be applied according to the purpose of the experiment and according to the stress on the animal (for example in an animal higher up the evolutionary scale, where its trainability may mean the stress is lower than in an animal lower down the evolutionary scale, which is not trainable to the same extent).
- In such questions, animal welfare law must also keep up with scientific research, to ensure it is applied as objectively as possible.
Basel, 30 November 2010