Animal welfare charities and anti-animal testing groups have slammed the Government after figures revealed the number of experiments on animals has increased.

According to the statistics – released by the Home Office yesterday (July 10) – there has been an increase of 11,554 experiments from 2012 to 2013; a 0.3% rise. This takes the total number to 4,121,582.

This, says the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), means more animal experiments were carried out in 2013 than at any point since the Government’s new statistics regime was introduced in 1986. It’s also the third consecutive increase since the coalition Government took office in 2010, pledging to “work to reduce the number of animals used in scientific procedures“, said the union.

BUAV’s chief executive Michelle Thew said: “Yet again more broken promises by the Government and more lives lost in this tragic failure to reduce animal experiments.

“The Government has now failed for a third year on its 2010 post-election pledge to work to reduce the number of animals used in research and, as a result, millions of animals continue to suffer and die in our laboratories.

“The UK should be leading the way in reducing animal testing, yet we remain one of the world’s largest users of animals in experiments.”

The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), meanwhile, called the figures a “national disgrace” – particularly the rise in numbers “despite continuing advances in science and ever-growing public concern”.

“More alternatives to animal experiments exist than ever before, yet more and more experiments are being performed on animals,” she said. “The public deserves to know why.

“We have waited too long for transparency and public accountability on this issue. These latest figures are a clear signal the Government must… open up experimentation to genuine outside scrutiny.”

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief scientific officer Maggy Jennings, meanwhile, said it was “depressing” to see “no sign of an end to this upward trend in the number of scientific procedures being carried out using animals”.

“Given the serious doubts about many aspects of animal research and testing, you have to question just how much of this research is really necessary,” she said. “How many thousands of these animals have lived, suffered and died for no real benefit.

“It is time for the Government and the scientific community to publicly acknowledge the fundamental issues with the scientific validity and quality of much animal use – and to tackle these head on instead of continually banging on about the potential benefits and then carrying on regardless.

“Every animal who is wasted in poor science is one animal too many.”

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