Major charity stops funding animal experiments

Posted on the 10th June 2015

In a move that is likely to have a significant impact on the health charities sector, Age UK has announced that it will no longer be funding animal experiments. Its final grants for animal research have already been given out, and the last few projects involving animals are due to finish by 31 December 2015.

Animal Aid has been campaigning for several years, through its Victims of Charity initiative, to end the funding of animal experiments by medical research charities. The initiative has involved exposing grotesque ‘procedures’ that have been supported by such charities, and producing a range of digital and printed resources that empower the public to donate only towards humane research.

Age UK will continue to fund social and clinical research, which can have a powerful impact on the health and longevity of older people. One project currently being supported by the charity involves measuring how the cognitive function of volunteers has changed in the decades since they took a school intelligence test. The project – which includes cognitive testing, blood sampling and brain scanning – will provide important insights into the risk factors for cognitive decline. Unlike animal research, such projects produce information that is directly relevant to people.

Age UK joins a list of 135 medical charities that do not conduct or fund animal research. These include major organisations such as Marie Curie Cancer Care, Breast Cancer UK and Anthony Nolan. Ninety charities continue to fund vivisection, but strength of public opposition is making this increasingly difficult to justify. A 2011 NOP poll commissioned by Animal Aid found that 82 per cent of the public would not donate to charities that fund animal research, and our exposés of charity-supported experiments have prompted thousands of complaints to the organisations involved. These exposés have included dogs being deliberately given heart attacks (financially backed by the British Heart Foundation) and monkeys being brain damaged through the use of a toxic chemical (co-funded by the Cure Parkinson’s Trust).

Says Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

‘We are delighted that Age UK has decided to adopt a humane and progressive policy, now funding only research that is directly relevant to people. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported our campaign against medical charities funding animal experiments, as we feel sure that this must have influenced Age UK’s decision. We hope that other charities will now follow the example of Age UK and focus solely on humane and progressive non-animal research.’

Editors’ notes

  • Visit the Victims of Charity website for more information about the campaign
  • Visit the Age UK website for more information about the project they are funding
  • Read our Briefing on the scientific case against animal research
  • View our online database of medical charities and their policies on vivisection. A free pocket guide to charities can be ordered from Animal Aid, and a free smartphone app with the same information can be downloaded from the Google Play or iTunes stores by searching for Cruelty-Free Giving
  • An NOP poll conducted in 2011 on behalf of Animal Aid indicated that 82 per cent of the public would not donate to charities that fund animal experiments
  • To arrange an interview with Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler, please call 01732 364546.

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