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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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New Home Office statistics for 2012 released

The total number of scientific procedures on animals that were started in2012 was 4.11 million, an increase of 8%, or 317,200, on the 2011 figures.   The rise is mainly due to breeding genetically modified (GM) animals and those carrying harmful mutants (HM), mostly mice.


Procedures on non-GM animals fell, meaning that, for the first time, the numbers of procedures on GM animals was greater than those on normal animals.


macaque and babySome species showed an increase in use, including non-human primates. Procedures on them rose by 545, or 22%. FRAME is particularly disappointed in that increase because of their high level of sentience. It is known that primates are able to remember distressful and painful events, and they can anticipate similar events in the future.


Laboratory conditions are also very damaging to them because it is extremely difficult to provide for their sophisticated social needs in a lab environment. The 2011 figures showed a slight decrease in the use of non-human primates and FRAME hoped it would be the start of a trend. However, the 2012 total of 3,020 is still lower than the 2010 figure of 4,688.


Similar results were shown for dogs. There were 4,843 procedures on dogs, a rise from 4,552 from 2011, but still lower than in 2010, when 5,782 were carried out.


Other species that showed an increase were:  mice up 379,058 or 14%, sheep up 5,157 or 14%, goats up 1,462 or 746%, (a rise from 196 in 2011) and guinea pigs up 1,203 or 10%. The totals for procedures on fish, amphibians, rabbits and pigs went down.


The reasons for the animal use also showed a number of changes. For example, procedures for  toxicology testing (safety testing) went down by 6%, a fall of 22,100 to 377,000. 94% of those were to meet one or more legislative requirements.


Pharmaceutical research and development, and pharmacology procedures went down:  24,600 or 11% and 10,100 or 14% respectively.


Increases were shown in procedures for nutrition (79,300 or 425%); anatomy (73,200 or 20%); cancer research (69,000 or 16%); genetics (46,000 or 13%); ecology (33,100 or 85%); and biochemistry (15,800 or 54%).


The statistics are compiled from returns, submitted by project licence holders at the end of each year, or on the termination of the licence when this occurs during the year.


No procedures were performed using greyhounds, a number of primate species, camelids, other ungulates, quail (Coturnix coturnix) and Octopus vulgaris. No great apes have been used since the 1986 Act was implemented in 1987.


The number of procedures using New World monkeys (for example marmosets and tamarins) fell by 68 (-19%) to 283, and the number of animals used also decreased by 12 to 232. However, the number of procedures using Old World monkeys (macaques) rose by 613 (+29%) to 2,737, and the number of animals used also increased by 739 to 1,954. Some primates were used more than once since some of the procedures they were involved in had only a minimal effect.


Universities accounted for the majority of procedures in 2012: 48 per cent (1.97 million) procedures. Universities held 76 per cent (2,467) of the 3,239 licences for which returns were received. This reflects the increase in use of GM animals for fundamental biological research carried out in universities.


Other bodies were: commercial organisations (27% or 1.13 million procedures), other public bodies (13% or 549,500 procedures) and non-profit organisations (9% or 352,000 procedures).


July 16, 2013