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news release

British Animal Experiments Reach 13-Year High

Official Statistics Reveal Cruel Tests are Out of Control

Uncaged is appalled after recently published Home Office figures revealed that in 2005 over 2.8 million animals were subjected to experiments in British laboratories - a rise of 34,158 on 2004. (For a breakdown of the number of experiments per species, click here.) Over 1.7 million of these procedures - which are likely to cause 'pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm' - were conducted without any anaesthesia. Even experiments where vivisection is performed under anaesthesia may involve severe pain later on.

An escalation of research using GM animals has been the main factor in what is the fourth consecutive annual increase. In addition to the harm caused by the experiments, disrupting the genome of animals causes them illness, disability and suffering. Now, almost a million GM animals are experimented upon every year. Growths have also occurred in experimentation on mice, primates, fish, guinea pigs, rabbits and equidae (horses and related animals). Areas to see falls include tests on rats, cats, dogs and pigs.

Toxicity tests have dropped by 10% to just under 400,000. However, 'fundamental' research - driven purely by curiosity - has increased by 7% to almost a million experiments. There have also been rises in experiments involving injections into the brain, 'thermal' injury (i.e. caused by heat) and physical injury. Intriguingly, the Home Office used to label these and similarly severe categories of research as 'procedures of particular concern', but has recently changed the description to the more anodyne 'procedures of particular interest'. This change typifies the Home Office's pro-vivisection policy of downplaying the real suffering caused by animal experimentation. In the same vein, the Home Office continues to withhold useful information concerning the levels of pain involved in the procedures.

The upward trend in animal experimentation betrays the Government's cavalier attitude to animal protection, public health and democratic accountability. This attitude is also revealed by the Government's own explanations for the figures, which stress the influence of the animal testing industry over the scale of the practice. This admission contradicts Home Office claims that decisions on whether to permit animal experiments depend on developments in public opinion, ethics, science and the understanding of animal welfare. While the Government tries to give the impression of balanced and sensitive regulation of animal research, in reality the practice is out of control.

Although normally shielded by a veil of official secrecy, Uncaged's historic legal victory over drug company Novartis has revealed that the Home Office colludes with animal experimenters to evade the regulatory and welfare requirements passed by Parliament. This is why virtually all applications to conduct animal testing are approved instead of being properly scrutinised.

Increasing vivisection in Britain also signifies a broken promise by the Labour Government, which had pledged to tighten regulations and thus reduce animal experimentation when it came to power in 1997. Instead, under pressure from the drug industry, the Government now licenses the sacrifice of about a quarter of a million more animals every year. Furthermore, the Government and drug industry has recently announced funding of £11 million to promote animal research [1] while the 'National Centre for the Three R's' receives a paltry £1 million per year.

Dan Lyons, Campaigns Director, comments:

"While the Government pays lip service to the goal of stopping animal experiments - an aim that virtually everyone apart from vivisectors aspires to - their actions speak louder than their words. Ironically, official rhetoric of 'strict regulation' and 'promoting alternatives' is a deliberate deceit that is specifically designed to provide false reassurance to the public and thus prevent any positive change."

Useful links:


  1. www.imperial.ac.uk/P7873.htm

Uncaged Campaigns 23.08.06


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