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BUAV shocked at lack of progress to reduce animal suffering despite government pledge

13/07/2011

Latest animal experiments statistics for 2010 released by the Home Office today show an increase in animal experiments

The BUAV is shocked by the increase in the number of experiments carried out on animals in the UK during 2010. Revealed in the Home Office statistics released today, this increase is despite a government pledge to reduce the number of animals used in experiments.

In 2010, over 3.7 million experiments were started on animals, an increase of 3% (+105,000) since 2009 and a massive increase of 37% since 2000. 101,265 more animals were used in experiments in 2010 than in 2009 and 1 million more than those used in 2000. This figure is totally unacceptable, equivalent to beginning 10,205 experiments every day.

The statistics were announced today by the Home Office in the annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 2010 (1).

Key areas are:

A recent review by the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate found that 26 veterinary drugs were being tested on animals when there was no longer any scientific need. The review prompted a change in the licences for these drugs, sparing an estimated 38,000 animals over the next five years. The review was prompted by a BUAV investigation into Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire in 2009 which found that the laboratory was conducting horrendous rabbit and mouse tests for some veterinary drugs that international regulations no longer required. 

It is a disgrace that animals have continued to be used for years in tests that were no longer required by international regulations. Once again, it calls into question the Home Office and research industry’s claims that animals are only used when absolutely necessary. The Home Office should be enforcing this legal requirement and regulators given the power to force companies to keep up to date with scientific and regulatory requirements in order to reduce animal experiments. 

BUAV Chief Executive Michelle Thew states: “The UK should be leading the way in reducing animal testing. Unfortunately, these latest statistics show there is a long way to go. Despite a government pledge to reduce animals in research, millions continue to suffer and die in UK laboratories, even when tests are redundant or alternatives are available. This is unacceptable. It is a disgrace that animals have continued to be used for years in tests that were no longer required by international regulations. Once again, it makes a mockery of the claims made by the Home Office and research industry that animals are only used when absolutely necessary. We call on the Home Office to weed out all obsolete and redundant animal tests by enforcing the legal requirement that companies have to reduce animal experiments by keeping up to date with scientific and regulatory requirements. We also call on the Government to fulfil its pledge to reduce animal experiments, and make meaningful and lasting change.”

(1) The Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 2010 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/science-research/spanimals10/spanimals10?view=Binary