National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Science fact not fiction needed to stop the rise of the mutants

Posted: 18 July 2019

New UK Government figures released today show that more than two-thirds of ALL animal experiments involve the use and creation of genetically modified (GM) animals. The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) is calling on users to utilise science fact rather than fiction to benefit human health and end the needless suffering of millions of animals each year.

Tim Phillips, Vice President of the National Anti-Vivisection Society said, “The use of GM animals in research is responsible for most animal suffering in British laboratories. A poor model for human conditions, it’s time for those continuing to conduct such research to move with the times and use modern methods rather than artificially created mutant animals to advance science.”

The Home Office figures for 2018 show that 3,443,768 animals were used for research in British laboratories, a decrease of 277,976 on the previous year. Of the 3,519,917 procedures conducted, 1,717,887 were for the ‘creation and breeding’ of animals with genetic modifications and 729,163 on GM animals.

Despite the known problems of natural species differences, GM animals are created with a particular defect in order to “model” human disease. Only 3-5% of the animals created actually carry the defective gene, which means that vast numbers of animals are killed, because they are unwanted. The animals suffer from both intended and unintended mutations as well as prolonged suffering for breeding, with repeated surgeries, egg collection, implantation, and repeated blood and tissue testing. As with animal use as a whole, the most commonly used species for GM research are mice and fish (2,043,077 and 386,304 procedures respectively).

With such research fundamentally flawed, the NAVS is urging companies and institutions with GM facilities to follow the lead of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Sanger Institute. Last month, the MRC indicated that it plans to close the Mouse Genetics Unit at Harwell Institute in Oxford due to “the changing scientific landscape”. The news followed the announcement that the Wellcome Sanger Institute was closing its GM mouse facility near Cambridge, its Director stating it was “the best way to continue to deliver the science and make the discoveries that impact on human health”.

An earlier investigation by the NAVS of the MRC Harwell GM mouse facility found: severe limb deformities, fused lobes in the lungs of animals, abnormal bone growth causing animals to have extremely short faces and upturned noses, animals chewing through their own skin, and congestive heart failure which caused one mouse to swell some three times their normal size. The investigation also uncovered issues of uncontrolled breeding resulting in injury, fighting and death of animals, and regular water leaks into cages, resulting in hypothermia and animal deaths.

With little known about the procedures being conducted on GM and other animals in British laboratories, the NAVS has long been calling for the removal of the “secrecy clause” in legislation governing animal use – the outdated Section 24 of the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act remains in place and has not been overhauled in line with current regulations and freedom of information regulations. Despite a government public consultation on the issue five years ago, its findings have still to be released. A matter of public interest, 41 per cent of those polled in a 2018 Ipsos MORI survey, the most recent of its kind, associate animal research establishments with secrecy.

Media contact
Angie Greenaway 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 [email protected]

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