New government vivisection figures – the scandal continues

Posted on the 20th July 2016

The shocking extent of animal use for scientific research is revealed today in Home Office statistics, relating to all vivisection completed in 2015. A total of 4.14 million procedures were conducted on animals, including dogs, cats, horses, monkeys, rodents and rabbits, despite mounting scientific evidence of the unreliability of animal-based research.

Among the stand-out figures which make horrifying reading is the 12 per cent rise in the use of primates (see notes). The number of procedures relating to the creation / breeding of genetically altered animals, that were not used in further procedures, rose to over two million (2.06 million).

The creation of GM mice generally involves several painful and invasive procedures, including castration, major surgery and ear or tail mutilation*. The horrors which lie behind the headline number are enough to chill the blood. Examples of previously conducted research include:

  • Pregnant sheep had their bellies cut open, when in late pregnancy, and having tubes and monitors inserted into the legs and major blood vessels of their unborn babies. The mothers underwent repeated suffocation – leading to the ewe and lamb suffering oxygen deprivation, and they were killed several days later.
  • Beagle-cross dogs have been bred at the Royal Veterinary College to carry a mutation that will lead to them suffering a canine version of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). They will be killed when just 18 months of age.
  • Furless GM* mice, created to have a deficient immune system, have been injected with cancer cells.

To put the base-line number into perspective, there are fewer than four million people in Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Manchester combined. When looking at the figure in this way, it is clear that this number signifies an industry which is working on a colossal scale and where the animals are treated as expendable ‘research tools’, not as sentient individuals with the same capacity for pain, distress and despair as humans.

Says Jessamy Korotoga, Animal Aid’s Anti-Vivisection Campaign Manager:

“The release of these ‘Annual Statistics’, is always a dark day for anyone who cares about animal exploitation, robust science and medical progress. Evidence is mounting that animal research does not provide results which are reliably predictive of the human condition, yet we see millions of animals being used and killed in UK laboratories each year. Animal research looks increasingly cruel and medieval, especially in an age where we can send satellites to Jupiter and detect gravitational waves.”

Notes to Editors

*Although the term GM is now frequently used, as are the techniques themselves, few people understand the processes involved. Creating just one ‘founder’ mouse with the required genetic alteration can entail the deaths of hundreds of others. These unwanted mice are often killed by being gassed or having their necks broken.

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