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Animal experiments increase

14th July 2011

Government figures have revealed a rise in animal experiments in the UK over the past 12 months.

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The 3% increase has been put down to the use of genetically modified (GM) and mutant animals and comes as campaigners warn a new EU directive threatens standards of welfare for UK lab animals.

Data has shown that some 3.7 million scientific experiments on animals were started in Great Britain in 2010, an increase of 105,000 on the previous year and breeding to produce genetically modified (GM) animals and animal with potentially harmful genetic defects rose by 87,000 to 1.6 million procedures.

Taking out GM animals, the total number of procedures rose by 18,000, from 2.09 million to 2.10 million.

Home Office minister Lynn Featherstone said the figures showed "the important work being done in this country to regulate animal procedures and ensure the highest standards of animal protection are upheld".

She added: “The UK has one of the most rigorous systems in the world to ensure that animal research and testing is strictly regulated.”

Neurobiologist Roger Morris at King’s College London said that scientists avoided using animals where possible but when studying the effects of a disease on the entire body, there was currently no alternative to using an animal model.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals said it was concerned and disappointed that the numbers of animals used in research and testing has gone up again.

It was also worried that a new EU directive would be a "step backwards on lab animal welfare".

 

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