Campaigners want draconian laws changed
Stark new UK government figures published today reveal that 3.4 million animals were abused in UK laboratories in 2018.
Animal welfare charity Naturewatch Foundation is calling for a change in the law as it is a criminal offence for anyone to expose what happens to the animals in testing laboratories.
Sarah Carr, Naturewatch Foundation campaign manager, called the treatment of animals in UK labs “torture.”
The foundation believes that the use of non-human animals to test the human health risks of chemicals is ethically wrong.
Scientifically, the accuracy of animal tests does not always apply to all animals including controversial humans, it said.
We must stop the torture of innocent animals in the UK and worldwide. Science has moved on with ground-breaking alternative human-centric science and other in-vitro techniques widely available,” said Carr.
“The UK has an economic and ethical opportunity to develop this new human-centric ground-breaking scientific sector, with funding of world-leading research, whilst bringing to an end outdated animal testing.”
Every year, the UK government publishes basic data about how many animals have been tested on and how many procedures captive animals have endured, but nothing about what the animals have experienced.
Secrecy still surrounds what actually goes on in animal testing labs, as it is against the law (Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986) to disclose the actual details of animal experiments.
Carr added: “The government talks about transparency and openness, but innocent sentient animals are suffering and dying unnecessarily. Until Section 24 is repealed there is no way for the public to hold the animal testing sector to account. Industry messages about replacing, reducing and refining animal experiments remain nothing more than a hollow sound-bite without transparency.”
During 2018, 157 establishments carried out animal testing with 3,136 different projects in the UK - the majority being universities and medical schools.
Of the 3.4 million animals, mice were the species of choice with 2.5 million mice used in experiments. In a nation of dog lovers, over 2,900 dogs were used – mainly the placid Beagle. Over 10,000 rabbits suffered as chemicals were applied to their skin and eyes.
In the past year, two leading UK research organisations have announced plans to close their mice testing facilities, as they move increasingly to alternative non-animal testing models.