More than 3.7 million scientific experiments were conducted on animals in Great Britain last year. This is an increase of 105,000 procedures than the previous year and the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Statistics reported by BBC News reported that animal research in UK labs surged in 2010. Most of the growth was due to “breeding genetically modified (GM) animals.” The number rose from 87,000 to 1.6 million procedures.
Most of the testing involved mice, fish and some breeds of monkeys and revolved around finding potentially dangerous mutations.
Penny Hawkins, senior scientific officer at the RSPCA said, “The RSPCA is deeply concerned and very disappointed that the numbers of animals used in research and testing has gone up yet again.” The numbers in 2009 were up from 2008.
Neurobiologist Roger Morris from King’s College explained that “whenever possible scientists studied diseases in a dish, in an effort to avoid the use of animals.” But when they needed to understand the effects of a disease on the entire body, there was no alternative than to use a live animal.
Even when tests on GM animals were taken out of the equation, the statistics still showed an overall increase in the number of procedures performed on animals. The numbers rose by 18,000 from 2.09 million to 2.10 million.
News of these sad statistics came as the UK considers amending its regulations to be more in line with those of the European Union.
A glimmer of hope from the 2010 statistics indicated that less horses, dogs, cats and rabbits were used in testing by the commercial sector, such as the cosmetic industry. The rise appeared to be in research for cancer, immunology and pharmacology.
The National Anti-Vivisection Society called the increase in animal testing figures, “a national disgrace.” They stated, “Millions of animals suffer and die in laboratories, even when tests are redundant or alternatives are available.”
The Home Office minister, Lynne Featherstone defended the UK saying the country has one of the most “rigorous systems” in the world to protect animals used in medical research.