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December 7, 2010

HSI UK Welcomes Signs That Government Strategy to Reduce Animal Procedures Expected Soon

Humane Society International/UK

(London, 07/12/2010)—Humane Society International/UK welcomes recent clear signals that the Coalition Government is set to announce plans for a national strategy to reduce animal procedures.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question [1] answered on December 3, Minister of State for Universities, Business and Science, David Willetts MP, said the Home Office was taking the lead on a strategy “to deliver the Government's objective to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research” and that ministers would be meeting soon.

In May this year, in its publication “The Coalition: Our programme for government," [2] the government pledged to “end the testing of household products on animals and work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.” David Willetts’ statement to Parliament has now gone further, explicitly confirming that the government will produce a strategy to encourage the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement of animal procedures). An Early Day Motion (no 435) welcoming the government’s pledge to reduce animal procedures has so far been supported by 143 cross-party MPs [3].

Troy Seidle, director of research & toxicology for HSI UK, says:

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the number of animal procedures in Britain increase year on year, so the time is absolutely right for a Government pledge to reduce such unacceptably high levels of animal suffering. The development of a national strategy is vital, with clear targets for replacing areas of poor performing animal research and boosting the development of state-of-the-art non-animal techniques. As well as being more humane, research without animals can also be more scientifically robust and economical. However for a future strategy to be truly progressive, the government must ensure that those within the scientific community with no genuine interest in moving beyond animal procedures are not allowed to dominate the discussions.”

Home Office statistics [4] published in July 2010 revealed that there were 3.62 million scientific procedures on 3.54 million animals during 2009. In recent years, there has been a general trend of increase year on year [5], with 2009 marking a one-off exception of a 1 percent decline. During 2009, procedures in British laboratories used (amongst others) were 2,815 non-human primates, 172 cats, 4,129 dogs, 3,564 pigs, 11,643 rabbits and 2.6 million mice.

ENDS

Notes

1. Parliamentary Question answered December 3rd 

Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department plans to take to contribute to the Government's objective to reduce the use of animals in laboratory procedures.

David Willetts (Minister of State (Universities and Science), Business, Innovation and Skills; Havant, Conservative): “The Home Office is responsible for regulating the use of animals in scientific research and testing, and is leading the development of a strategy to deliver the Government's objective to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research. I and other ministerial colleagues with an interest in research using animals will be meeting in the near future to discuss how to take the strategy forward.

"The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) supports and promotes the 3Rs in research and testing. The NC3Rs receives around £5.1 million funding for 2010-11 from this Department, through the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.”

2. "The Coalition: Our programme for government" [PDF] page 18 

3. Early Day Motion 435 “That this House supports the pledge published in the programme for Government to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research; and calls on the Government to develop a strategy which identifies and implements targets for sustained reductions in the number of animals used annually in procedures in the UK in order to fulfil this pledge.”

4. Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals – Great Britain, 2009, released in a summary, on the Home Office website on 28 July 2010. Available here.

 5. The recent trend of increase: 2.73 million animal procedures in 2002; 2.79 million animal procedures 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 and 3.62 million in 2009.

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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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