The BUAV has today criticised an 11.7% increase in the number of animals used in experiments in Scotland during 2011. The total number of animals used was 647,569, which is 67,664 more than in 2010. The figures have come to light following questions tabled by Willie Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East and Shadow Scotland Office Minister.
Michelle Thew, BUAV Chief Executive said, “We are deeply disappointed by yet another large increase in the number of animal experiments taking place in Scotland. Animal experiments is an issue of strong public concern and I am sure the people of Scotland will be shocked to learn that over 600,000 animals were used in experiments in Scottish laboratories last year. This scale of animal suffering is unacceptable. We need to see meaningful and lasting changes for animals in laboratories. The UK Government should fulfil its pledge to reduce animal experiments.”
During 2011, there were 315,723 mice, 38,572 rats, 997 guinea pigs, 549 hamsters, 1,399 rabbits, 91 horses and other equids, 4,563 sheep, 746 pigs, 15,859 birds, 265 amphibians, 265,191 fish, 312 dogs, and 58 non-human primates used in experiments.
In 2011 Scotland bred more animals with harmful mutations and genetic modifications. These types of experiments can cause extreme suffering, and many animals may be discarded who do not display the “required” defect or characteristics.
Scotland is now responsible for 17% of animal experiments in the UK.
Earlier this year, the BUAV revealed shocking research by Scotland’s top Universities in recent years:
University of St Andrews
• Researchers repeatedly blasted wild seals with loud sounds (up to 180dB) to test their startle reflexes and determine if the noises could make them permanently frightened of a situation. Seven wild-caught grey seals, including four who were just under one year of age, were kept in a small experimental pool for at least 3 days. Human workers in the UK are required to wear ear protection if exposed to 85dB.
University of Dundee
• In an attempt to investigate the effect of obesity on learning, rats were fed a high-fat diet for 12 weeks containing 18% lard and subjected to various behavioural tests. In one test carried out 4 times a day for 6 days, rats were placed in a large pool of water and forced to swim around to find a small platform hidden under the surface of the water so they could rest.
University of Glasgow
• A mechanical pain stimulator device was developed using young pigs 6-8 weeks old. Their feet were injected with a substance known to induce inflammation and pain before they were forced into a small enclosed testing area where they were subjected to repeated pain response tests. A machine-driven probe attached to a computer underneath the floor was pushed upwards with increasing force until the pigs withdrew their feet in pain.
University of Edinburgh
• In an attempt to investigate the effect of prenatal stress on the brains of baby rats, pregnant mothers were placed in cages with an aggressive stranger rat for 10 minutes every day for 5 consecutive days while researchers watched as they were lunged at, pinned down, attacked and bitten. Some of the pregnant rats were killed while others were left to give birth. The babies were also subjected to stress experiments in which they were forced into small plastic tubes and restrained for 30 minutes. At the end of the experiment rats were decapitated and their brains were dissected.
University of Strathclyde
• In an attempt to mimic anorexia in mice, animals were fed severely restricted diets leading them to quickly lose a substantial amount of body weight. With some animals, the weight loss was so serious that the researchers had to either kill the mice or put them back on a normal food schedule.
Some of these experiments are examples of the lengths researchers will go in an attempt to mimic human disease and behaviour – when there is already plenty of far more reliable human (and humanely obtained) data available. Such animal experiments often trivialise the complexity of human diseases which are affected by wide-ranging variables such as genetics, socio-economic factors, deeply-routed psychological issues and different personal experiences.