National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Life sciences strategy criticised for failure to recognise importance of non-animal technologies.

Posted: 9 July 2018

Chair of House of Lords Committee patron of pro-animal research charity.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has been criticised by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) for failing to acknowledge the importance of non-animal technologies in its life sciences strategy report.

In a joint letter spearheaded by the NAVS, twelve animal protection organisations and alternatives funding bodies are calling for the Committee to urgently address the omission of advanced research methods that are more reliable, cheaper and biologically relevant to humans.

Jan Creamer, President of the National Anti-Vivisection Society said, “It is recognised that modern non-animal methods are more progressive and sophisticated than animal models, so it is a shocking oversight for the Committee to exclude them from their report. If the UK wants to be a global leader in science, it needs to commit to these advanced technologies that are better for people and animals.”

The Committee’s report ‘Life Sciences Industrial Strategy: Who’s driving the bus?’ was published in April following an Inquiry last year, to which the NAVS and fellow signatories of the letter Animal Aid, Cruelty Free International, Humane Society International UK, Naturewatch Foundation, PETA, and the RSPCA submitted evidence in support of non-animal technologies. The submissions included evidence from several reports of government bodies stressing the importance of incorporating non-animal technologies into scientific frameworks.

Looking at issues “such as whether the Government has the necessary structures in place to support the life sciences sector” and “the content of the new Life Sciences industrial strategy” the final life sciences strategy report makes no reference to any of the evidence submitted by the organisations.

Supported by Animal Defenders International, Animal Free Research UK, Catholic Concern for Animals, Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research and Run Free Alliance, the joint letter expresses the organisations’ “great disappointment” at the lack of recognition of non-animal technologies and states that failure to do so places the UK “at risk of losing pace with international developments”.

In their submissions to the Inquiry, the NAVS and other signatories outlined: the benefits of moving away from animal research, noting how animal models are poor scientific models, with non-animal technologies widely recognised as more reliable, cheaper, and a priority for investment; that international regulatory agencies, governments and funding bodies are encouraging a shift away from animal testing; and that when the UK leaves the EU, investment will be essential to avoid falling further behind Europe in the advancement and promotion of advanced methods.

It is interesting to note that the Chair of the Committee Lord Patel is a patron of the Animals in Science Education Trust, a pro-animal research charity which has B&K Universal among its corporate sponsors. For several years, the NAVS, local residents, celebrities and other groups opposed plans by B&K to build a facility to breed beagles and other animals for experiments in Grimston, Yorkshire. Blocked twice by the local council, the facility was given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State in 2015 after appeals from the company.

Latest figures from the Home Office show that 3,867,528 animals were used for research last year, including more than 3,500 dogs, an increase of 125. Being small and docile, the beagle is the preferred species and experiments can involve the animals being force-fed compounds such as agricultural chemicals, or having toxic substances pumped into their veins.

In a response to the joint letter, the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee claimed that animal testing was not within the scope of their inquiry, and that they have “no current plans to conduct an inquiry into non-animal technologies”. The exclusion of non-animal technologies from the life sciences strategy is a fundamental omission which needs to be addressed, state the NAVS.

Media Contact: Devon Prosser | 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 | [email protected]

Click here to read the joint letter to House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

Click here for the NAVS submission to Life Sciences and Industrial Strategy Inquiry.

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