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July 16, 2013

As Home Office Statistics Show UK Animal Experiments At Shocking 4.11million, HSI Calls on Government to Increase Spend on Non-Animal Replacement Techniques

HSI analysis reveals government spends just 66p on non-animal replacement research for every animal in a UK laboratory

Humane Society International/UK

As today the Home Office publishes its annual UK statistics on scientific procedures using animals - revealing animal use has reached a shocking 4.11million procedures - Humane Society International/UK calls for a substantial increase in government funding for the development of non-animal replacement methods. For 2011/2012, the government gave just £5.46million to the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, with roughly one-third spent on research to replace animals. This is compared to an overall annual UK science budget of £4.6 billion.

In a new HSI video, biomedical researchers from Imperial College, London, The Blizzard Institute and Aston University, explain why replacing animals in cancer, gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurological research will reap significant rewards for human health.

Troy Seidle, Director of Research & Toxicology for HSI, said, "Despite a government pledge to reduce animal experiments and repeated claims that animals are only used when absolutely necessary, millions of mice, monkeys, rabbits, fish, dogs and other animals still suffer in UK laboratories. The excuse that this level of animal use benefits medical research is wearing thin. Increasingly, scientists are questioning the human-relevance of animal models, pointing to the need to invest in advanced, non-animal techniques to improve medical progress. Britain should be a world leader in developing this cutting-edge research, yet government spending on 21st century, non-animal replacement research remains woefully inadequate at 66p per animal in a UK laboratory. For human health and animal protection, we must do better than that."

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"The government may prefer to talk about animals in laboratories as mere percentages because they belie the shocking scale of animal use. But the truth is, behind closed doors thousands of dogs and cats just like our beloved pets at home, are subjected to distressing and often terminal procedures; hundreds of highly intelligent monkeys endure physical and mental pain; and more than a million rabbits, guinea-pigs, hamsters and other rodents go through painful and invasive testing. These animals are not just statistics."

In 2012, 4.11million procedures began on 4.03million animals including rabbits, fish, monkeys, rodents, dogs and horses—the highest level since the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act was introduced in 1986.

In May 2010, the government pledged a national reduction strategy "to reduce the use of animals in scientific research" in its publication 'The Coalition: Our Programme for Government'. Some 182 cross-party MPs signed EDM 435 in support of the reduction pledge.

Read the official Home Office statistics [pdf].

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