National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Animal experiments increase by 40 per cent since 2000

Posted: 10 July 2012. Updated: 10 July 2012


Today’s publication of the annual “Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals” for 2011, compiled by the Home Office, has once again shown a disturbing, but predicted, increase in the number of animals that are experimented on in UK laboratories, say the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS).

A total of 3.79 million experiments on animals were carried out in 2011, an increase of 68,100 (2 per cent) on 2010. However, the most shocking statistic is that the number of procedures carried out since 2000 has increased by 40% (1.08 million).

Whilst the numbers of primates and dogs have fallen in the past year, there have been sharp increases in the use of cats and pigs, an extremely worrying development.

This upward trend confirms the UK as one of Europe’s biggest animal users, despite the widespread availability of advanced alternative methods. It also illustrates that the government is ignoring the focus on animal replacement in the new EU Directive on animal research, which will be incorporated into UK law next year.

NAVS Chief Executive, Jan Creamer: “At a time when the world is moving to advanced techniques to replace animals and this has been underlined as the aim of the new European Directive, it is a national disgrace that the UK is among the leading users of animals in Europe. Even worse, the Government’s own body set up to develop advanced methods to replace this unnecessary animal suffering is funding extremely painful and distressing brain research on primates, when there are non-invasive scanning methods on humans available. It’s an embarrassing indictment of the state of British science.”

A summary of the statistics, as provided by the Home Office is as follows:

1. Just over 3.79 million scientific procedures were started in Great Britain in 2011, increasing 2 per cent (+68,100). Breeding of genetically modified (GM) animals and harmful mutants (HM), mainly mice, remained stable, accounting for 1.62 million procedures.

2. Excluding the breeding of GM and HM animals, the total number of procedures increased in 2011 (an increase of +71,300 or +3%, from 2.10 million to 2.18 million).

3. There were increases in numbers of procedures for several species, for example cats (+26%), pigs (+37%), birds (+14%) and fish (+15%). There were falls for several species, for example rats (-11%), guinea pigs (-16%), dogs (-21%), and non-human primates (-47% with new-world monkeys -68% and old-world monkeys -41%).

4. There was an increase (+2%) in the numbers of procedures for safety testing (toxicology) to 399,000, due to increased use of fish in regulatory toxicology, with a higher proportion carried out to meet more than one legislative/regulatory requirement (75% compared with 72% in 2010). Most toxicology procedures are carried out in the commercial sector where the number of procedures also rose (+1%).

5. The number of non-toxicology procedures increased 2 per cent to 3.39 million, reflecting the higher numbers of procedures carried out in universities (+7%), particularly fundamental research. The increase for nontoxicology included increases in physiology (+115,100), immunology (+62,000) and parasitology (+22,000) whilst ecology (-30,300), anatomy (-27,000), biochemistry (-11,900) and cancer research (-10,200) fell.

6. There were 1.08 million more procedures than in 2000 (+40%) mostly accounted for by breeding to produce GM and HM animals (+918,000, of which mice +795,000). Excluding such breeding, the total number of procedures was slightly higher than in 2000 (+8% or +159,900).

Does strong animal protection provision damage industry? No!

High animal welfare standards can actually benefit the science and technology industry, and keep the UK science sector in the forefront, internationally.

If high animal welfare standards were driving research abroad, or damaging industry, then the impact would be most obvious in those countries which already operate strict regulatory controls over use of laboratory animals, such as the UK and Switzerland.

The UK government claims to maintain the highest laboratory animal welfare standards in the world. Yet in this tight regulatory environment, the competitiveness of the UK pharmaceutical sector has rapidly improved over the last 20 years.

Indeed in 1985, the UK’s trade surplus was £1.184 billion (€1.258 billion). Despite more than 20 years of ‘strict animal welfare regulation’, the trade surplus has grown to £4.276 billion (€4.548 billion) in 2007, a huge increase of 361% (1).

In fact, in 2007, the pharmaceutical industry became the most competitive industry in the UK, as it ranked number 1 in trade surplus, beating all other British industry sectors. Its value added in 2006 also ranked number 1, a long way ahead of the other sectors such as aircraft, business services, motor vehicles or manufacturing (2).

There is no doubt that strong controls over animal use and high standards of laboratory practice and animal protection, benefit both science as well as protect animals – and reducing animal use stimulates development of advanced technology, improving science with benefits for people and animals.

The Government’s 2011 Statistics can be found here

The NAVS commentary on the increasing use of animals and details of experiments is here

Support our campaigns against animal testing

Statistics of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
Statistics of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)


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