The RSPCA is calling on officials to prove their commitment to animal testing standards, following new footage released by an anti-experimentation campaign group.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is calling on academics and officials to prove their commitment to animal testing standards, in the wake of new footage released by an anti-experimentation campaign group.
Speaking out on World Day for Laboratory Animals (April 24, 2013), the charity called for an independent inquiry into undercover footage showing alleged breaches of animal welfare at Imperial College London, filmed by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).
The video footage, taken at Imperial College London and released by BUAV on April 13, shows mice and rats apparently undergoing a range of experiments, including gastric bypasses and craniotomies, and reporting a range of surgical mistakes by researchers.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “When we saw last week’s video footage, which appears to show serious malpractice, appalling incompetence and a flagrant disregard for animal welfare at a leading UK university, we asked how this was allowed to happen.
“We, along with the rest of the public, demand reassurance that action is being taken to ensure such unacceptable practices are not occurring in other labs.”
In October 2012, more than 40 UK organisations – including Imperial College London – signed up to a Declaration on Openness in Animal Research, pledging commitment to performing animal research to the highest welfare standards.
In addition, 2012 saw the UK’s animal testing standards fall into step with Europe – a move that worried welfare groups, which claimed it could open the door to lower standards. According to Home Office figures, numbers of both inspectors and lab inspections have fallen over the past five years.
Mr Grant continued: “The RSPCA has repeatedly warned that a more hands-off approach to regulation from the Home Office could result in standards slipping in some establishments. Research establishments and the Home Office need to see the exposé of Imperial College London as a loud wake-up call.
“Animals have suffered and that is a serious breach of public trust.”
He added: “Talk is cheap. Those involved in animal research and testing must back up their claims of concern for animals with real evidence of action.”