The Government has launched a public consultation on the repeal of the Section 24 clause that prevents the publication of details of animal experiments.
The review of the Section 24 “secrecy clause” was prompted by an EU directive promoting “openness and transparency” in animal research.
The main aim of the directive is to replace animal experiments with modern technology.
Currently, Section 24 prevents regulators from releasing details of what happens to animals during experiments under the Freedom of Information Act.
As a result, the “secrecy clause” has handicapped open public debate, and scientific and ethical scrutiny of the use of animals in research.
According to a recent poll, 51% of respondents thought “unnecessary duplication of experiments may go on” and only 47% “trust scientists not to cause unnecessary suffering”.
National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) chief executive Jan Creamer responded to the consultation: “We welcome news that the Government is reviewing Section 24 – the “secrecy clause” that shrouds animal experiments from public and scientific scrutiny.
“The NAVS is calling for the repeal of this clause and for the Freedom of Information Act to be used to protect sensitive information as it was intended to do.
“We urge people to help bring an end to the secret suffering of animals in laboratories and respond to the public consultation.”
NAVS has welcomed the support of nature television presenter Chris Packham.
“Animal experiments have been carried out in the dark for too long,” said Mr Packham. “I support the NAVS campaign to end secret suffering in UK laboratories.
“Please help animals by answering the Government’s consultation and ask for the repeal of the Section 24.”
In February, the Government published a strategy document to fulfil its commitment to reduce the number of animals in research.
It was heavily criticised by the NAVS for failing to set a target, while latest statistics reveal the number of animals has risen to more than 4 million – the highest number on modern record.