National Anti-vivisection Society

 

National Antivisection Society

2009 sees UK experiment on 3.5 million animals

Posted: 20 August 2010

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The number of marmosets and tamarins used has almost doubled

Experiments decrease from 20 year high, but use of GM animals on the rise

The Home office recently published its “Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals” for 2009, revealing that during 2009 over three and a half million animals were used in experiments.

The statistics, which with supplementary tables amount to over 100 pages, aim to report the use of animals in research, covering the numbers of animals used, their species and also the areas of research for which they were used.

The statistics are published every year to meet the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – this is the legislation that is due to be changed within the next two years, when the new European Directive comes into force.

The number of actual procedures reported was 3,619,540 – 36,540, fewer than the previous year. It should be noted that this slight decrease is only relative to 2008’s 20-year high in the number of procedures carried out on animals.

An appalling total of 3,541,252 animals were used; a slight decrease of 41,971. Of these animals, 3,111,587 were used for non-toxicological research and 429,665 for toxicological research. In a step in the right direction, however, no animals were used for testing household products, unlike the 132 animals used the year before.

The report reveals that the most frequently used animals were mice, at 2,618,674. The next most popular is rats of which 323,054 were used. Procedures were also carried out on a variety of other animals, such as rabbits (11,643) dogs (a total of 4,129, of which 4,089 were beagles and 40 were “others including cross bred animals”) and cats. Others, which may not instantly jump to mind as typical laboratory animals were 791 ferrets, 199 horses or “other equids”, 8,015 sheep and 114,301 “domestic fowl”. Although no common octopi were used, almost 400,000 fish were.

Use of primates
2815 primates underwent scientific procedures in 2009. Although this was a slight reduction in the number used the previous year (3354), the number of marmosets and tamarins used had almost doubled from 262 the previous year to 498 last year. The marmosets and tamarins were used for “fundamental biological research” (178 animals) and “applied studies – human medicine or dentistry” (320 animals). The macaques that were used for the same research areas totalled 162 and 1,866 animals respectively. In addition, 289 macaques were used for “Protection of man, animals or environment”.

Perhaps the most worrying trend reported in the statistics was that “For the first time there was a higher total of procedures using GM and HM [harmful mutant] animals than using genetically ‘normal’ animals”. The statistics report that this increase was largely due to an increase in the use of GM mice in breeding procedures.

It is always hoped that when the annual statistics are published, there will have been a fall in the number of animals used. Sadly, however, this cannot disguise the worrying trend in the rising use of genetically modified animals and certain types of non-human primates, and the fact that there are still millions of animals suffering and dying in the name of science every year in the UK alone.

The full statistics, along with supplementary tables can be found on the Home Office website - http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/scientific1.html

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