Despite Promises, UK Fails to Reduce Animal Experiments

Last year, figures released by the Home Office showed that animal testing in the UK had reached a 25 year high, causing public outrage. Yet, despite promises from the government to reduce the suffering, the number of experiments has actually risen.

The latest numbers show that nearly 4.1 million animals were used in experiments in the UK in 2012, which is the highest total since 1982. Since just 2011, there has been an increase of 317,200 procedures. While the biggest increase was the use of mice, the rising use of other animals — including dogs, cats, sheep, fish, rats, birds and non-human primates — is also raising concerns.

According to Michelle Thew, Chief Executive of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV):

A 9% increase in the number of animals used in experiments started in 2012 is shocking. The Government has failed for a third year on its post-election pledge to work to reduce the number of animal experiments and, as a result, millions of animals continue to suffer and die in our laboratories. This lack of progress is completely unacceptable. We need to see meaningful and lasting changes for animals in laboratories.

Officials continue to claim that animals are only used when absolutely necessary and that the industry is highly regulated. They also argue that the rise is due to an increase in breeding genetically modified animals for research, which counts as a procedure, and that if they weren’t included in the numbers there would appear to be a decrease in the number of experiments. That decrease, however, would only be two percent.

Either way it’s counted, animal advocates are unimpressed with the government’s repeated failure to make good on its promise to reduce animal experimentation and note that GM animals can suffer, as a result of being bred, from certain diseases and disorders without even being used in experiments.

While testing is on the rise, a separate report showed that the number of officials who visit research facilities is declining, leaving each inspector responsible for overseeing 227,870 animals in 2012, which doesn’t even sound humanly possible.

Even inspections don’t guarantee humane treatment of animals, as the BUAV’s recent investigation of Imperial College London demonstrated. That investigation brought to light a number of problems ranging from the cruelty of the experiments themselves to the complete and utter disregard for animal suffering by researchers.

Still, despite the insanity of all these numbers, they still don’t show how much these millions of animals actually suffered. According to the RSPCA, a new law will require suffering to be assessed and reported following each experiment. The results will be published for the first time in 2015.

“The RSPCA has long argued that accurate and honest information on actual animal suffering is essential, both for public accountability and so that efforts to reduce pain and distress can be properly focused where they are needed the most,” said RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant.

Even with reporting, the level of suffering is still a best guess. It wouldn’t be surprising if it were underestimated by those with an interest in perpetuating the use of animals in research.

As for the pledge to reduce experiments, according to Times Higher Education, the Home Office has plans to publish a plan later this fall that will outline the government’s efforts to deliver on its pledge to reduce animal testing.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven9 days ago

thanks for the article.

Rebecca G.
Rebecca G.2 years ago

People are different from animals! When are people, the UK and every other country, going to realize that these tests are outdated and unnecessary, any one remember Thalidomide? If we must test on someone, how about criminals on death row, we would get much better results and rid the world of monsters. Leave the innocent animal alone!!!!

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton2 years ago

This outdated crap should of ended years ago. Shame on the UK & Every other country that is still doing this.

Michaela M.
Michaela M.2 years ago

Oh, and I'm from the UK by the way. It's not just the Brits who need to be named and shamed, but every country around the world where animal testing still takes place and is deemed acceptable in this day and age.

Michaela M.
Michaela M.2 years ago

Please stop the animal testing now! Enough is enough!

Carrie-Anne Brown

very sad news :( but thanks for sharing and petition signed :)

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Not cool ;(

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener2 years ago

Shame on the Britons...

Claudia Cavallo
Claudia Cavallo2 years ago

It is terrible to read that instead of decreasing experiments are increasing, our society should get better not worse

Angela L.
angela l.2 years ago

Barbara and Sydney, I agree with you both. That's why I avoid taking any kind of medicine and avoid anything that comes from animals or by-product. People should re-educate themselves and try holistic/natural healing and live a substantial healthy lifestyle. Then there's no need of medication nor vitamin and there will be no lab of these sort as an excuse. If everybody lives a simple life and follow their mind to live harmoniously with everything on earth, along with exercise, we should be healthy and happy. The bottom line is humans are basically selfish and evil.