Animal Aid

Broken promises: government presides over rise in vivisection

Posted 24 July 2006

Today's announcement by the Home Office of an increase in animal experiments - to a 14-year high - represents a clear government refusal to heed the will of the people in favour of rewarding those who bankroll them. Despite government promises to reduce the number of animals used in experiments, the actual numbers have risen for four consecutive years. The latest figures show that, in 2005, more than 2.8 million animals were used - 34,158 more than in 2004.

Once again, there was an alarming increase in the actual experiments conducted on genetically modified animals (up by 43,000). The number of primates and fish used also rose markedly.

A key figure in determining the types of experiments that receive funding is the Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, who also has a massive financial stake (held in a 'blind trust') in biotechnology. His invitation to take up this powerful governmental position in 1998 - by which time he had been awarded a life peerage - followed his regular and large donations to the Labour party.

The announcement of the increased use of animals - particularly those on genetically modified animals - comes at a time when there is mounting political and expert opinion against animal research. More than 240 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion calling for an inquiry into the efficacy of animal experiments. This is backed by a 2004 survey of GPs which showed that 83 per cent wanted to see a transparent and scientific evaluation.

The increased use of rats and mice who have been genetically modified cannot hide the fact that good money is being wasted on unsound science. GM animal models of human disease have consistently failed to produce the promised wonder cures for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer's disease. According to a recent government-funded report (Sunday Telegraph, 31st Oct 2004) and to a New Scientist editorial (Nov 15th 2005), the 'biotech revolution' has not delivered genuine improvements.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

"When Labour came to power, animal advocates anticipated the downward trend in the number of animal experiments would continue. For four years running, the use of animals has increased - another example of a discredited Labour government doing precisely the opposite of what it promised. Directed by Lord Sainsbury - a man with a vested interest in the field of biotechnology - this government has actively promoted an increase in the use of genetically modified and other animals in experiments, and seeks to characterise all opposition to vivisection as mad or bad. The time is long overdue for the government to fulfil its commitment to championing modern and dependable non-animal research methods. This would mean falling foul of one of their biggest donors but they should put sound science and morality above self-interest."

Summary of 2005 Statistics

  • The number of animals used has risen by 34,158 to 2.81 million.
  • The number of primates used has risen by 323 to 3,115.
  • The number of guinea pigs used has risen by 1,932 to 28,894.
  • The number of rabbits used has risen by 636 to 15,348.
  • The number of chickens used has risen by 5,727 to 99,191.
  • The number of fish used has risen by 36,764 to 230,315.
  • The number of experiments involving genetically modified animals has risen by 43,428. Almost 42,000 of these were on undeclared species of animals.
  • More than 1.7 million animals, including one million mice, were given no anaesthetic at all.
  • More than 3,000 primates and 800 dogs were sourced from outside the EU.

Notes to Editor

  • For more information, contact Animal Aid's Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546 or 0791 808 3774.
  • For full background on animal research, see www.animalaid.org.uk.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast quality interviews.

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