The RSPCA believes the results of two new polls commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should spark more determined efforts to end animal use and suffering in experiments.

Published on September 4, the surveys were carried out in March by Ipsos Mori and show a continuing overall decline in public support for animal experiments – now at the lowest level since 2002.

Close to a third of people in the UK state they don’t support the use of animals in any experimentation because of the importance they place on animal welfare.

RSPCA chief scientific officer Maggy Jennings said: “These results reveal the public’s deep-seated and persistent concerns for animals that suffer in the name of science – concerns which are shared by the RSPCA.”

More than three quarters (78%) of people say there should be more research into humane alternatives to animal experiments, and almost half (47%) believe “scientists could do more to reduce the suffering of animals that are still used”.

The polls also show 61% think there might be unnecessary duplication of research; only 24% think in practice “scientific research is carried out on animals only where there is no alternative”; and just 16% believe organisations using animals in the UK for scientific research “stick to good animal welfare standards”.

Dr Jennings added: “Lobbyists for the research community argue that everything possible is done to keep animal use and suffering to a minimum, yet in the past decade there has been a massive increase in the numbers of animals used. There has also been increasing acknowledgment that many experiments are poorly designed and of questionable value, which means animals have – without doubt – suffered unnecessarily.”

Other results showed 34% of people asked in the survey stated they “do not trust the regulatory system around the use of animals in scientific research”, with only 35% believing “the rules in the UK on scientific research involving animals are well enforced“.

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