Today, April 24th is World Day for Animals in Laboratories. It is an international event that commemorates the millions of animals who suffer and die in laboratories around the world.
I hope you will join us in using this time as an opportunity to highlight the plight of those animals used in experiments at Imperial College London, one of the UK’s leading universities and ranked eighth in the world. Our recent investigation at Imperial College has not only revealed the terrible suffering that thousands of rats and mice are subjected to inside, but also provides a disturbing insight into the attitude and behaviour of the researchers and staff whose job it is to look after the animals in their care. Our investigation uncovered incompetence and neglect and harrowing scenes of animal suffering and distress. The animals at Imperial College were clearly viewed as dispensable tools of research with little intrinsic worth.
Time and time again, we are told by the Government and animal research industry that animals are only used when no alternative exists, that they are well looked after, that their suffering is kept to a minimum and they are humanely killed at the end of the experiment. Yet, undercover investigations carried out by the BUAV, such as that at Imperial College, have shown that this is simply not the case.
The Government is currently reviewing Section 24 of the Animal Scientific Procedures Act that imposes restrictions on what information is allowed to be placed in the public domain. The truth is that there is very little public scrutiny of animal research in the UK, because of the secrecy. Yet, 50% of all animal research carried out in the UK now takes place in universities, much of it publicly funded. The public has a right to know what is being done to animals and why. Our investigation has shown why transparency is so important to any informed debate on the issue of animal experiments.
Our investigation has also shown why it is crucial that the Government honour the pledge it made in 2010 to reduce the number of animals being used in experiments in Great Britain. There is support to make progress on this issue. A recent Government-funded survey found that public backing for animal experiments has fallen and over 200 MPs from all political parties have shown support for a reduction in animal experiments by signing a BUAV-backed Early Day Motion. Sadly, however, it appears that the Government remains unmoved to both public and political concerns.
We are urging the Government to listen to the UK public and keep its promise. Please support us in our campaigns to seek meaningful and lasting change for animals in laboratories. Sign our petition urging the Home Secretary to take action and write to your MP asking them to show their support for our Broken Promises campaign (EDM 405), our call for an independent inquiry following our investigation at Imperial College London (EDM 1286) and our call for animal experiments to be open to transparent and informed debate (EDM 716).
Until next time…..