News that the number of animals used annually in scientific procedures in the UK has broken the 4 million mark should “serve as a wake up call to all involved”, according to the RSPCA.
News that the number of animals used annually in scientific procedures in the UK has broken the 4 million mark should “serve as a wake up call to all involved”, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
According to the Home Office’s 2012 statistics on animals used in scientific procedures, published yesterday (June 16, 2013), 4.03 million animals were used in a total of 4.11 million scientific procedures during 2012.
Specifically, the report points at “disappointing increases” in the use of animals such as mice, dogs and primates compared to 2011, including:
- an increase of 8.4% in the number of scientific procedures carried out on animals
- an 8.7% increase in the number of animals used
- an increase of 14.5% in the number of mice used (up by 386,515)
- dog use increased for the first time since 2007 (3,214 in 2012, compared to 2,865 in 2011)
- a 22% increase in number of procedures involving non-human primate use (up 545)
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “This is a serious issue – the latest figures are alarming and should serve as a wake up call to all involved to up their game in the mission to replace and reduce the use of animals in research and testing.
“We will be asking for an urgent meeting with Lord Taylor, the Home Office minister with responsibility for animal experiments, and with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to discuss this issue which is extremely important to the lives of animals and so many of the public.”
At the same time, a separate report published on the work of the Home Office Inspectorate – which oversees the implementation of the law on animal experiments – shows an 11% fall in the number of official visits made to UK animal research and testing establishments between 2011 and 2012.
The report also shows that the overall number of inspections has almost halved since 2007 (from 2,401 to 1,285), while the average number of inspectors in post and carrying out normal inspection duties between 2007 and December 2012 also fell, from almost 25 full time equivalents (24.7) to 17.7.
Mr Grant said: “The recent decrease in Home Office Inspectors is significant and of grave concern. It will be totally unacceptable to the RSPCA – and to the public – if standards slip in some establishments as a result of a lack of adequate investment in oversight by the Government.”
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