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Despite promises to limit the practice, Home Office figures show a rise in animal testing in Scotland, where 49,284 rats were used in research last year.

Hypocrisy claim as tests on animals increase by 4.5%


POLITICAL EDITOR ([email protected])

Testing on animals has risen in Scotland, figures reveal Despite increased funding for replacements for animal testing, the work continues An expert accuses the government of 'complacency and hypocrisy' Key quote "The British government must stop standing on the sidelines and come up with a strategy to deal with this worsening animal welfare crisis." - Alistair Currie, of British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection

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ANIMAL testing in Scotland has grown sharply despite government assurances that the controversial practice will be reduced, new figures have revealed.

The Scotsman has obtained detailed figures on scientific experiments conducted on living creatures in Scotland.

The official statistics compiled by the Home Office show that last year, there were 408,794 tests on animals in Scotland - a 4.5 per cent increase on the previous year.

The figures also reveal that Scotland is carrying out a disproportionate amount of animal testing in the UK, with tests north of the border making up 14.1 per cent of the UK's 2.91 million procedures even though Scots make up only around 8 per cent of the total population.

And testing is rising in Scotland much more quickly than in the rest of the UK. Total British animal testing in 2005 was 2.91 million, up from 2.8 million the year before, an annual rise of only 1.4 per cent.

An expert yesterday accused the government of "complacency and hypocrisy," suggesting that ministers have neglected technologies that could reduce the use of animal testing.

Among the animals used in the research in Scotland were: 910 monkeys, 1,308 dogs, 5,294 sheep, 3,016 rabbits, 941 pigs, 69 horses. 267,960 mice, 49,284 rats, 2,944 guinea pigs and four cats. Tests were also conducted on 7,854 birds, 238 amphibians and 56,993 fish.

The increase in testing comes even after ministers' pledges to increase efforts to find alternatives.

The government is officially committed to the "three Rs", internationally agreed scientific principles aiming, wherever possible, to replace animals in science, refine the tests on them and reduce the suffering of animals used in any procedures.

In 2004, the government doubled its funding into replacements for animal testing, and established a special laboratory for the work, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research.

Since then, however, total animal testing in Britain has continued to rise. Scientists say the main cause of the rise is genetic research, which commonly involves the use of large numbers of mice whose genes have been manipulated, a point apparently borne out by the Scottish data.

Of the procedures carried out in Scotland last year, 128,561 involved genetically modified animals and 11,048 involved animals with a harmful genetic defect.

Most controversially, British scientists are still using hundreds of "non-human primates" in their research, creatures all closely related to humans: marmosets, tamarins, squirrel, owl, spider and capuchin monkeys, as well as baboons and macaques.

Although the overall number of primates used is falling in the UK, anti-vivisectionists say that it is because of "re-use" - carrying out multiple tests on a single animal.

Dr Gill Langley, who served for eight years as a member of the Animal Procedures Committee (APC) and is now science director of the Dr Hadwen Trust, a charity that promotes alternatives to animal tests, said: "In the years that I served on the APC, the government's complacency and hypocrisy over animal experiments was often apparent. The irrational prejudice against modern non-animal techniques must be overcome and that message needs to come loud and clear right from the top."

Alistair Currie, campaigns director for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, condemned the government over the new data.

"These figures show that Scottish labs are putting more animals through pointless, painful experiments per head of population than those in the rest of the UK," he said.

"Animal experiments are not only ethically indefensible, they are scientifically inefficient - over 90 per cent of drugs that 'pass' animal tests fail in human trials. The British government must stop standing on the sidelines and come up with a strategy to deal with this worsening animal welfare crisis."

The Home Office, which oversees all animal testing in the UK, last night defended the government's record.

"The UK's controls on the use of animals are amongst the tightest in the world. The government is firmly committed to the three Rs. To this end, the government and its agencies spend upwards of £10million annually on this research, and the industry itself spends significantly more," said a spokesperson.

"There remains a clear need for the use of animals in vital scientific research where no alternative is available. This type of research saves countless lives each year and the government fully supports the efforts of scientists working to secure medical advances and public health improvements."


I HAVE a wife and small children, so when I decided I was going to start speaking out on testing, of course I was worried. This is something I've been aware off all my academic career, since my undergraduate degree at Dundee: the threats, the intimidation, it's always been there for people in the field.

It's not as if you can ignore it. The protesters are almost always there when you walk into work in the morning: they scream and they shout, and a lot of people find it quite uncomfortable.

Once you're in the lab, the daily work of medical researchers who do animal experiments is probably far more mundane than most would imagine.

It's not at all like the representation of animal research as portrayed by animal-rights groups, who like to think of our labs as torture chambers populated by evil sadists.

That's the stereotype I want to get rid off. I always tell people what I do and why I do it: I sometimes introduce myself to people by saying "Hi, I'm a sadistic animal torturer, and I'm doing everything I can to cure cancer." That usually makes people stop and think.

I'm proud of what I do and I'm determined not to be intimidated.

David Priestman is a researcher at Oxford University


THESE laboratories are getting away with murder. When they break the law they do so with impunity.

Our findings have revealed the true horror of regulatory testing on animals, and an insight into the enormous suffering and carnage that will be brought about by the testing programme proposed in the EU's chemical regulations.

Laboratory animals suffer at every stage of their lives; the law allows the infliction of pain and suffering on animals that would, in other circumstances, be illegal. They live in factory farm conditions where overbreeding, fighting injuries and overcrowding is rife. They can be burnt, blinded, scalded, mutilated, poisoned or deliberately given disease.

Last year the National Anti-Vivisection Society released information from a leading Scottish laboratory where over 25,000 animals are experimented on each year. This showed rats choking to death in a paint test that should not have been lethal; dogs accidentally having test substances pumped into their lungs; and monkeys hunched in their cages suffering body tremors, liquid faeces and swollen penises. The laboratory was not sanctioned.

Jan Creamer is chief executive of the National Anti-Vivisection Society

Hamsters 774

As well toxicology and gene testing, hamsters have been used in visual tests. In a recent experiment aimed at restoring human sight, scientists severed a nerve within the visual system of young and adult hamsters.

Guinea pigs 2,944

Guinea pigs are used in a range of experiments including having their skin abraded, and having household and industrial substances applied in skin irritancy tests.

Dogs 1,308

Dogs are used in many areas of testing, including toxicity tests, surgery, and dental experiments. Beagles are the breed most often used by researchers because of their reputation as friendly and gentle.

Cats 4

Cats are most commonly used in neurological research. In the UK in 2005, 308 cats were used. This is a decrease from 819 cats recorded in 2004.

Horses 69

Horses metabolise drugs quicker than humans and have been used in some trials . In other tests, embryos were transplanted from racehorses into mares of smaller breeds, restricting the nutrients reaching the developing foetus.

Mice 267,960

Mice are by far the most-tested animals. Toxic tests, like the LD-50, to find the dosage at which half of a sample group of mice would die, have largely been phased out. Now, more and more of the rodents used have been for genetic experiments.

207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Monkeys 910

Toxicology testing is the largest experimental use for primates in Britain. Other experiments include causing brain damage in order to research Parkinson's disease, as well as studying visual and hearing functions.

Pigs 941

Due to their anatomical similarity to humans, particularly in terms of the size of their organs and the structure of their skin, pigs are often used in tests that involve skin burns, flesh wounds and broken bones.

Rabbits 3,016

Albino rabbits are used in eye-irritancy tests because they have less tear flow than other animals and the lack of eye pigment in albinos make the effects easier to visualise. They are also used in skin irritancy tests.

Rats 49,284

As well as tests such as toxicology and genetic manipulation, rats are said to have been used for unusual implant work. One animal rights group claims to have evidence of rats with electrodes implanted in their heads at a London university.

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Last updated: 02-Nov-06 00:37 GMT

Comments Add your comment1. / 1:41am 2 Nov 2006 Its disgusting that companies still use animals in experimentation. If the argument is that the research gained from this saves so many people....Then why is it that they cure absolutely nothing while making billions in the process.

Cancer is now about one in three and were told it is set to go on rising and people are dropping like flies with diabetes and many other ailments.

These companies are draining the NHS dry and yet cant even provide the cure to the common cold.

Here is a Vid thats well worth watching on the future of medicines
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