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July 10, 2012

Britain’s Animal Experiments Rise to 3.79 million in 2011

We must escape the scientific cul-de-sac of animal experimentation, says HSI/UK

Humane Society International/UK

  • Experiments on animals in Britain have increased yet again. Igor Byrko/iStock

Humane Society International/UK is extremely disappointed by the Home Office’s announcement that experiments on animals in Britain have increased yet again, reaching 3.79 million in 2011.

Although a recent YouGov/HSI opinion poll shows that 69 percent of the British public support the government’s pledge to replace and reduce animal experiments, the Coalition has failed to make significant progress. Animal use has now risen to its highest point in a decade. In 2011, 3.79 million experiments were started on animals, an increase of 2 percent (+68,100) since 2010.

Leading British scientists and HSI’s President Dr Andrew Rowan, this week wrote an open letter to Home Office Minister Lynn Featherstone, urging the government to show greater support for novel non-animal techniques so that researchers “will be better equipped to tackle the major human and environmental health challenges we face in the twenty-first century.”

Troy Seidle, Director of Research & Toxicology for Humane Society International/UK, said:

“Decades of over-reliance on animal experiments has left a legacy of faulty disease models and failing drug discovery. Yet another increase in the number of animals suffering in British laboratories is deeply depressing news for science, medical progress and animal welfare. It demonstrates the government’s failure to grasp the sea-change in attitude needed to escape the scientific cul-de-sac of animal experimentation. Innovative and human-relevant research advances are taking place amidst an astonishingly impressive biotechnology revolution and yet we continue to paralyse rats, poison dogs and brain damage monkeys in the millions. What luddites these statistics make of Britain.”

In May 2010, the government pledged a national reduction strategy; 182 cross-party Members of Parliament have signed Early Day Motion 435 in support of the reduction pledge.

Read a summary of the 2011 statistics [PDF].

Notes:

Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals – Great Britain, 2011, released 9 July 2012. The recent trend in animal procedures 1999 – 2010 is: 2.66 million animal procedures in 1999; 2.7 million in 2000; 2.6 million in 2001; 2.73 million in 2002; 2.79 million in 2003; 2.85 million in 2004; 2.9 million in 2005; 3.01 million in 2006; 3.2 million in 2007; 3.656 million in 2008; 3.62 million in 2009, 3.72 million in 2010 and 3.79 million in 2011.

A YouGov/HSI opinion poll asked: Do you support or oppose the government taking action to reduce and replace experimentation on animals? Results: 69 percent support, 16 percent oppose, 16 percent don’t know. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,864 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 3rd - 4th July 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The Government first pledged to “work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research” in its publication “The Coalition: Our programme for Government", May 2010, page 18.

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