Originalbeitrag in Sammelwerk
Ethics within legal limits: harm-benefit analysis according to the Directive 2010/63/EU.
12th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics,
Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Romania,
May 28-30, 2015.
IN: Dumitras, DE [Hrsg.]: Know your food: Food Ethics and Innovation. Wageningen, Wageningen Academic Press, pp. 42-47. ISBN: 978-90-8686-264-1.
According to the EU Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, the harm-benefit analysis is part of the project evaluation that has to be carried out by the competent national authorities. Ethical considerations have to be taken into account during the evaluation procedure. Therefore, all member states face the question how to understand the term ‘ethical considerations’ and how to implement these considerations in the evaluation procedure. A research project is currently carried out at the Messerli Research Institute Vienna to accomplish this task. An applicable methodology for the harm-benefit analysis is aimed for. The question arises which ethical aspects can be integrated into the project evaluation against the background of existing legal requirements. On the one hand, a great number of ethical requirements associated with animal protection are already reflected in the relevant law and regulations. On the other hand, the important question arises whether ethical considerations can exceed the legal framework. This second aspect is a vital issue since the harm-benefit analysis that integrates ethical considerations is a legally binding part of the project evaluation. In other words: If a project is turned down because of an imbalance of harms and benefits, this has to be done on a transparent, legal basis. Since ethical considerations are part of the harm-benefit analysis, a concise understanding in line with the legal basis is necessary. If projects were evaluated applying criteria that exceed the legal requirements, submitters would be treated in a way that is incompatible with the idea of a constitutional state and the principle of legality in particular. This leaves us with the question what is meant by ‘taking ethical considerations into account’ and whether its content can/should either be identified with ‘legal requirements’ or not. Further, even if this question is answered, it remains open how to integrate ethical considerations into the harm-benefit analysis and whether they can play a decisive role. I will address the first question on the basis of three possible understandings of the term ‘taking ethical considerations into account’. Each implies different consequences for the harm-benefit analysis in animal research. However, only one understanding can be applied: It will be argued that ethical considerations as a part of the harm-benefit analysis can only be understood within the limits of the legal framework.