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News release


Distressingly, Government statistics published on Thursday 8 December 2005 reveal the twelfth consecutive rise in the annual toll of animals sacrificed in British laboratories. According to the figures, in 2004 2,778,692 animals were subjected to experiments that are officially regarded as potentially 'causing pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm' [1]. This is an increase of 57,093 animals, or 2.1%, compared to 2003.

Vivisection: a law unto itself

For the past 120 years, animal researchers have been a law unto themselves. The increasing scale of vivisection is a sign that the Government continues to turn a blind eye to animal abuse, failing even to fulfil minimum legal requirements to independently assess applications to conduct animal experiments.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 stipulates that the Home Secretary has complete freedom over whether to permit animal research applications, although there is a vague requirement that he or she must take into account animal suffering, public opinion, ethical developments and criticism of the scientific validity of animal experiments. However, the Government's comment accompanying the release of these figures states: 'It is impossible to predict the number of animals likely to be used in future years'. They go on to indicate that the demands of the drug and chemical industries, together with their associates in the scientific establishment, dominate animal testing policy.

This exposes the reality of the Government's position: they lack the political will even to set targets to try to reduce animal experiments. The concerns of the public, and the suffering of millions of innocent animal victims, are completely ignored. What little evidence that has emerged about this secretive process shows that Home Office Inspectors and animal testers enjoy an incestuous relationship, working out how to evade the letter and spirit of regulations laid down by Parliament. This is partly due to the fact the most inspectors were previously involved in animal experimentation themselves [2], and share the same background and values. However, there are currently only 25 Inspectors [3] who, every year, are supposed to scrutinise applications to perform experiments on almost three million animals. These same Inspectors are also charged with ensuring that the subsequent experiments comply with numerous licence conditions such as severity limits. Even if Inspectors approached their duties from the stance of neutral arbiters, they don't have the resources to fulfil the duties that the Government pretends they perform [4].

Brutal arrogance

The statement from the increasingly vitriolic vivisectors' lobby group - the so-called Research Defence Society (RDS) - reveals the Government's bias and the brutal arrogance of their partners in the animal testing lobby [5]. The RDS comment includes a sycophantic tribute to the animal research lobby from the latest minister for this policy area, Andy Burnham. This is followed by extraordinary gloating from the RDS's new director, Dr Simon Festing, where he mocks deep ethical concerns about animal cruelty as 'bleating', and appears to revel in the growing suffering of animals in research by welcoming the increased figures.

What's even more disturbing is that the RDS and associated groups enjoy exclusive relations with the Home Office, and hence are able to prevent any meaningful implementation of regulations. Clearly, the Home Office believes that the RDS's intolerant approach to public concern and cavalier attitude to animal suffering fits the 'rules of the game' for how life and death decisions are made over the fate of innocent animals. Such antagonism, combined with despotic and unaccountable governance, seems designed to provoke anti-vivisectionists and does nothing to promote rational debate.

The seemingly inexorable rise in the suffering of animals in British laboratories, and the callous attitudes that have become entrenched in the Government's approach, mean that there is an urgent need for a wholesale, independent review that can make animal experimentation policy more sensitive and accountable.


Contact the following to complain about the rise in vivisection and the Home Office's biased policy:



  1. This is in addition to the fact that the animals are almost invariably killed, which bizarrely, the Home Office refuses to define as a source of harm.
  2. Written Answer, Mike O'Brien MP, 6/4/00, Hansard.
  3. Augmented by 5 managing inspectors.
  4. See the Diaries of Despair website at www.xenodiaries.org for a unique insight into the reality of UK animal research and its 'regulation'.
  5. http://www.rds-online.org.uk/pages/news.asp?i_PageID=2099&i_ToolbarID=6

Uncaged Campaigns 09.12.05


Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.