National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

6,000 animals used in experiments at defence facility Porton Down

Posted: 4 August 2014. Updated: 4 August 2014


Figures released in parliament last week have revealed that, despite a fall of over 30% in the last four years, more than 6,000 animals were used in experiments at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Porton Down, a facility in Salisbury run jointly by the Ministry of Defence and Public Health England.

The animals used include 6,156 rodents, 108 pigs, four rabbits, as well as 193 primates - almost one tenth of the total number of primates used in Britain.

In 2012 almost 40% of the project licences in force at the facility were classified as substantial , accounting for 15% of all substantial projects in Britain.

The figures were released shortly after John Glen, the local MP, revealed in the House of Commons that there was uncertainty about the future of the facility, leading Public Health England to make the business case for continuing operations there to the Treasury.

The exact nature of the experiments which the animals endure – a number of which are funded by the US Government – is not known, due to the high level of secrecy which surrounds the industry in Britain. Defence Minister Philip Dunne MP did reveal however that the main areas of use include medical countermeasures to biological and chemical agents; provision of tissue; treatment and decontamination of chemical agents and detection and identification of biological weapons.

There is due to be a debate on the future of the facility when parliament returns from recess in September, and we’ll be working with MPs to uncover more of what happens to animals, paid for with taxpayers money, at this top-secret establishment.

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