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The Treaty of Lisbon requests the European Union and the Member States to pay full regard to animal welfare issues when implementing new policies. The present article discusses how these provisions are met in the emerging area of nanotechnology. Political action plans in Europe take into account animal welfare issues to some extent. Funding programmes promote the development of non-animal test methods, however only in the area of nanotoxicology and also here not sufficiently to “pay full regard” to preventing animal testing, let alone to bring about a paradigm change in toxicology or in biomedical research as such. Ethical deliberations on nanotechnology, which influence future policies, so far do not address animal welfare at all. Considering that risk assessment of nanoproducts is conceived as a key element to protect human dignity, ethical deliberations should address the choice of the underlying testing methods and call for basing nanomaterial safety testing upon the latest scientific – and ethically acceptable – technologies. Finally, public involvement in the debate on nanotechnology should take into account information on resulting animal experiments.
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