The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has called for an overhaul of animal experiments following new statistics showing the UK was the third largest user of animals in experiments in the EU in 2011.

In the statistics, released by the European Commission yesterday (December 12, 2013) an overall drop in the number of animals used in experiments in EU member states is seen, falling from 12.1 million in 2008 to just under 11.5 million in in 2011. However, the percentage of animals used for biological research has increased sharply, from 38% to 46% (to 715,519 animals). In the UK, a large proportion of animal experiments (32 per cent) are for fundamental biological research, said NAVS.

NAVS chief executive Jan Creamer said: “Europe is taking a step in the right direction and fulfilling its legal obligations by reducing animal experiments with a view to phasing them out. The UK, on the other hand, has increased animal experiments to the highest number seen for decades and the industry is mired in controversy.

“An urgent overhaul is required to remove the secrecy that surrounds animal experiments in the UK, to avoid being left behind, as Europe moves away from outdated animal experiments and towards modern science that benefits humans and animals alike.”

According to the NAVS, the Government is to launch a public consultation on a “secrecy clause” that “shrouds animal experiments from public view“. According to the charity, the clause is incompatible with EU Directive 2010/63/EU, which calls for “openness and transparency” in animal experiments, meaning the review of the clause presents the Government with an “ideal opportunity” to fulfil its pledge to decrease the number of animal experiments.

“Doing so would help prevent experiments going ahead where non-animal alternatives exist, or where similar animal experiments have already been carried out,” said NAVS.

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