Animal Aid

Record rise in experiments on mutant animals

Posted 8 December 2005

New Home Office statistics - released today - show that 2.85 million animal experiments were conducted in 2004. This represents a 12-year high and the third consecutive year in which the total has increased (1). The number of actual animals used jumped by no less than 60,000 (from 2.72 million in 2003 to 2.78 million). Overall, the new figures confirm Britain's status as the vivisection capital of Europe.

The new data, in Animal Aid's view, amount to an unforgivable betrayal of the public as well as of animals. The government, it adds, has failed spectacularly to demand of the research community that it adopts scientifically sound and humane alternatives to animal experiments for medical research and safety testing.

A particular concern regarding the new HO statistics is the dramatic increase in the production and use of genetically modified (GM) animals. Experiments using such animals shot up from 764,000 in 2003 to 914,000 last year. Probing the much-hyped 'success rate' of GM animal 'models', a new Animal Aid report - called Man or Mouse, and written by University of Newcastle geneticist Dr Jarrod Bailey - demonstrates that there is an inherent flaw in the so-called transgenic model. Far from providing a failsafe new research tool, it represents what Dr Bailey terms 'a scientific dead-end'.

Said Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

'The reliability of animal research is now being widely questioned within the scientific community itself. It is, therefore, shocking and disappointing to see that, for the third year in a row, animal experiments are on the increase. Those researchers who remain wedded to animal use must wake up to the fact that poisoning, brain-damaging, cutting up and genetically tinkering with animal "models" is archaic and cruel. The time is long overdue for them - supported by government - to engage fully with modern and dependable non-animal research techniques.'

In the new Home Office report, there is, once again, a refusal to include important categories of animals produced and used for research. These include the five to six million who are annually disposed of as 'surplus to requirements' or as 'non-conforming products'. Additionally, some half a million animals are purpose-bred and killed so that their body parts can be used for test tube studies.

Notes to Editors

  • To arrange an interview with Animal Aid's Scientific Consultant, Andre Menache, please call 01732 364546, ext 33 or email andre@animalaid.co.uk.
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  1. Home Office statistics reveal total of 2.73 million animal experiments in 2002 rising to 2.79 million in 2003.
  2. The UK continues to conduct more animal experiments than any other European country. The three EU countries using the greatest number of animals are: UK (2004): 2.85 million; France (2001 latest figures available) 2,212,294; and Germany (2004) 2,265,489.
  3. The then Home Office Minister Caroline Flint last year acknowledged that the Government 'has not commissioned or evaluated any formal research on the efficacy of animal experiments and has no plans to do so'. (Written answers to Parliamentary Questions by Mike Hancock MP, March/April 2004)

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