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July 27, 2010

Animal Experiments Statistics Total 3.6 Million

HSI decries shameful legacy of science’s complacency about animal suffering

Humane Society International/UK

Humane Society International has reacted strongly to Home Office statistics released today revealing no significant decrease in animal experiments conducted in Britain, still totalling 3.6 million experiments in 2009.

The Home Office emphasises that most procedures were on rodents (82 percent), but HSI research (see below) reveals mice and rats often experience significant suffering in UK laboratories. The Coalition government must commit to alternatives, says HSI.

Troy Seidle, director of research and toxicology for Humane Society International, says:

"The Home Office's announcement year after year of unacceptably high numbers of animals used in experiments is becoming depressingly familiar. Such high levels of animal use expose the shameful legacy of science's complacency about animal suffering where sentient creatures from mice to monkeys are still treated like dispensable research tools. Animal experiments fail to meet the sophisticated needs of modern science. Whilst the previous government's default position was to defend animal research at all costs despite its clear deficiencies, we need a new vision from the Coalition government that grasps the opportunity to make a genuine commitment to advanced alternative techniques. That would not only save the lives of millions of animals but also improve the quality and pace of medical progress."

Nearly 3 million mice and rats were used in 2009 but HSI scientist Gemma Buckland PhD has reviewed a sample of recent experiments and reveals that rodents can endure significant and sustained suffering.

Shocking examples of rodent research in British universities and laboratories involved:

  • severe viral infection of lungs without pain relief;
  • addiction to mega-doses of cocaine;
  • baby mice enduring 28 days of painfully inflamed eyes after corneal grafts;
  • severred leg ligaments and inflamed joints with acute then chronic pain for 16 weeks without pain relief.

Click makeanimaltestinghistory.org/statistics.pdf for referenced summaries of these 2009 rodent experiments.  

Says Gemma Buckland Ph D, Science & Policy Officer for HSI:

"These small creatures have an acute ability to experience pain and yet in British laboratories they endure procedures often involving high levels of suffering, sometimes for prolonged periods and without pain relief. Their suffering is made more troubling because their relevance as surrogates for human conditions remains highly questionable. We must not forget that behind the statistics are real animals' lives and those lives can be highly distressing." 

There was a 1 percent drop in procedures since 2008. Use of mice, reptiles, birds, sheep and GM animals increased.

ENDS

Editor's Notes

Full statistics published rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/scientific1.html

References and summaries of rodent experiments available makeanimaltestinghistory.org/statistics.pdf  

Humane Society International is one of the world's largest animal protection organisations, with 11 million supporters globally. HSI works to protect all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. On the web at hsi.org/endanimaltesting.