National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

A million FEWER animal tests in Britain since World Day for Laboratory Animals launched in 1979

Posted: 23 April 2019. Updated: 23 April 2019

Ahead of the 40th anniversary of World Day for Laboratory Animals on 24 April, the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) is highlighting that one million fewer animal tests are conducted in British laboratories today, compared with the year the global day of commemoration was launched.

With 3.7 million animal tests still conducted annually, the NAVS is calling on the UK Government to do more to support the adoption of advanced non-animal methods that can replace their use, and tackle the secrecy continuing to surround animal tests.

NAVS President Jan Creamer said: “This significant decline in animal use, and since the first World Day for Laboratory Animals, has been in spite of inadequate funding and support for modern science. Knowing animal research to be misleading and fundamentally flawed, the UK Government must act to accelerate the adoption of advanced human-relevant methods, helping animals and people.”

Founded by the NAVS in 1979, World Day for Laboratory Animals has been educating the public and legislators about animal tests and alternatives to their use for 40 years. The date chosen is the birthday of a past NAVS President, Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding. A great champion of animals, Lord Dowding spoke numerous times about the suffering of animals in laboratories and their “grossly excessive and unduly repetitive” use.

When World Day for Laboratory Animals was first launched, a total of 4.7 million experiments were carried out on animals in British laboratories. Today, based on UK Government figures, 3.7 million tests take place – a million fewer, but still too many.

UK legislation helping to save animal lives over the past 40 years, for which the NAVS has actively campaigned, include a ban on cosmetics testing on animals, and bans on using animals – hundreds of thousands at the time – to test alcohol and tobacco, as well as deadly, acute oral LD50 safety tests.

Almost 30 years ago, the NAVS highlighted the plight of primates and the ecological damage caused by removing them from the wild for use in research. Today, no wild caught primates are kept or used in British labs, and primate experiments as a whole have more than halved since 1979, from 6,354 to 2,960.

Although there have been some notable gains in ending or reducing the use of animals in certain areas of research, more than two-thirds (2.6 million) of all procedures today are for the creation and maintenance of animals with genetic modifications. No such experiments were recorded in the UK 40 years ago.

GM animals are created with a particular trait, in order to “model” human conditions, and are intended to be abnormal in some way. Given a deliberate genetic defect, prolonged animal suffering can arise from repeated surgeries, egg collection, implantation, repeated blood and tissue testing, and the intended and unintended mutations suffered. With only 3-5% of offspring actually having the desired genetic defect, huge numbers of animals are also killed and discarded.

With little known about the experiments that take place in British laboratories, the NAVS has been calling for removal of “secrecy clause” Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, and specifically for the licence applications submitted by animal researchers to be made public before their experiments take place. Five years after consulting the public on Section 24, the NAVS is still waiting for the UK Government to release its findings.

The use of animals in research is fundamentally flawed because:

  • Each species responds differently to substances, making animal tests an unreliable way to predict effects in humans;
  • Test results can differ due to an animal’s age, sex, diet, and even their bedding material;
  • Human diseases in lab animals are not naturally occurring - artificially created, they are different from the human condition they are attempting to mimic.

Over the last 40 years, the NAVS has brought attention to the unnecessary suffering and misleading use of animals in laboratories in a wide variety of ways. In the 1980s and 1990s, before smart phones and social media, it organised huge World Day for Laboratory Animals rallies in London – the biggest the country had seen, or has seen to date, on the issue, with as many as 23,000 people attending.

Celebrities including Boy George, Chrissie Hynde, Brian May, Dannii Minogue, Brian Blessed, Stella McCartney, Philip Schofield and Twiggy, among many, many others, have supported the day of commemoration over the years.

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

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