Animal Aid

Government Guilty of Massive Increase in Animal Experiments

Posted 21 July 2009

14 per cent rise on previous year

The Labour government has presided over yet another massive annual increase in animal experiments. Home Office licensed ‘procedures’ during 2008 totalled 3.7 million – a rise of 14 per cent on 2007.

Despite a Europe-wide movement of politicians, scientists and the public to phase out the use of monkeys, official figures released today (July 21st) show that British labs conducted 4598 experiments – 634 more than in 2007.

There were also dramatic increases in the use of pigs (+114%), turkeys (+135%) and fish (+85%). In fact, fish, are now subjected to more than 605,000 experiments – 16.6 per cent of the total. Most fish experiments are categorised under a typically vague Home Office heading of ‘fundamental biological research’. This explains very little. Given the substantial proportion of all experiments that fish now represent, the government must offer clear explanations.

There was a continuation in the relentless increase of recent years in experiments involving genetically altered or ‘mutant’ animals. They now account for around half of the total. Many of these ‘altered’ animals suffer from painful complications such as limb malformations and severely enlarged internal organs. This is in addition to the suffering that the planned mutation is intended to cause through the mimicking of serious human diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis.

All animals subjected to procedures suffer simply from being caged. Then comes a cruel range of torments that those involved seek to pass off as science. They include being poisoned, burnt, submerged in water, brain damaged, psychologically tormented, injected with cancerous materials and lethal pathogens, and deprived of food and water. In addition to traditional lab victims, the new figures show that bottle nose dolphins, seals, bats and ‘wild garden birds’ were also experimented upon.

The release of the 2008 figures comes as European political institutions are developing a new Directive to govern animal experiments across the whole of the European Union, Britain included. Although the current draft legislation is disappointing in many key aspects, it does demand a commitment by Member States to engage in a more energetic programme aimed at replacing the use of animals. The British government is already showing signs of resisting this positive development and the latest ‘animal procedures’ statistics demonstrates its contempt for animal welfare. The figures also illustrate a disregard for modern science, which is increasingly producing efficient, speedy and reliable research methods that make no use of animals.

Says Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid:

‘The massive increase in the abuse and killing of animals in British labs – presided over by the Home Office – is shocking enough. Compounding the situation is the government’s presentation of the data, which attempts to conceal increases in the use of species such as monkeys, mice and fish. Political commentators might observe that this is a typically deceitful performance by a government addicted to spin and double-speak. Britain should be on the path towards a rapid phase-out of animal research, because it is both cruel and scientifically unreliable. Alternative methods abound that are quicker, cheaper and dependable. Instead, the government charts a course in the opposite direction.’

 Number of Procedures in 2008 Using Different Species (2007 figures in brackets) Number of Animals Used in 2008 (2007 figures in brackets)
 2008 200720082007
Mouse 2,418,604 (2,221,981) 2,407,982 (2,209,014)
‘Any fish species’ 605,155 (327,586) 604,743 (326,201)
Rat 355,370 (385,654) 347,962 (377,480)
Chicken 110,713 (115,768) 110,686 (115,681)
Sheep 35,820 (32,781) 9,184 (8,648)
‘Any amphibian species’ 32,674 (18,045) 24,786 (9,254)
Guinea Pig 29,293 (31,857) 29,250 (31,547)
‘Other bird’ * 9,502 (10,566) 9,120 (9,454)
Horse and other equids 9,365 (8,795) 252 (281)
Pig 6,824 (3,192) 6,672 (3,143)
Dog 6,105 (7,464) 4,271 (5648)
Primates 4,598 (3,964) 3,354 (3125)
Hamster 3,298 (3,371) 2,843 (1,069)
Turkey 2,618 (1,115) 2,033 (881)
Cows 2,302 (3,267) 2,147 (2,981)
‘Other carnivore’ * 1,264 (904) 948 (904)
Ferret 1,122 (441) 970 (441)
Gerbil 1,092 (1,069) 1,092 (1,069)
‘Other mammal’* 978 (1,595) 889 (1,470)
‘Other rodent’ * 866 (1,037) 866 (1,037)
Goat 499 (147) 483 (147)
Quail 426 (188) 426 (188)
‘Any reptile species’ 109 (863) 109 (344)
Deer 63 (85) 63 (85)

* According to the Home Office, in 2008:
‘Other carnivore’ included foxes, badgers, seals and mink.
‘Other mammal’ included bats, hares and bottle nosed dolphins.
‘Other rodents’ were wood mice, voles, squirrels and chinchillas.
‘Other birds’ used were zebra finches, pigeons, parakeets, ‘various wild garden birds’, game birds, sea birds and magpies.

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