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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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FRAME concerned over further increase in laboratory animal use

The latest figures issued by the Home Office show that the total number of procedures on animals went up by 14% in 2008.  The increase is particularly disturbing, because it includes a rise of 16% in the use of non-human primates (monkeys). 

 

The rise in use of the monkeys is a further concern because 42% of those procedures were carried out on animals from outside the UK, so they had undergone the additional stress of transportation before being used in the laboratory.   Some species showed a decrease, including rats, domestic fowl, guinea pigs, rabbits and dogs.

 

 However, use of fish, mice, amphibians, turkeys, pigs and sheep all showed significant increases. The figures show the continuation of a trend that began in the mid 1990s, of an annual increase in the number of procedures carried out on animals. The 2008 numbers suggest that the rate of increase is accelerating.  

 

FRAME recently issued an updated version of the book that first set out a concept called the Three Rs, which was designed to phase out the suffering of animals in scientific experiments through Replacement, Refinement and Reduction.  The original was called The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique and was published in 1959.  

 

Chairman Michael Balls said: “We are very disappointed that the latest figures show such a steep increase. Too little has been done over the last 50 years to reduce the number of animals used in medical research and testing and the latest figures suggest that there is unlikely to be any improvement in the near future.”

 

 

The Home Office summary says:  
  • Just under 3.7 million scientific procedures were started in 2008, a rise of 454,000 (14%) on 2007, mainly due to increases in the use of fish (+278,000 or 85%), mice (+197,000 or 9%), amphibians (+15,000, or 81%), pigs (+3,600 or 114%), sheep (+3,100 or 9%) and turkeys (+1,500 or 135%). Use of non-human primates rose by slightly over 600 (+16%), due to an increase of 1,000 (+33%) procedures involving old world primates and a fall of 400 (-53%) procedures using new world primates.
 
  • There were falls in the use of most other species, in particular rats (-30,000 or -8%), domestic fowl (-5,100 or -4%), guinea pigs (-2,600 or -8%), rabbits (-2,500 or -13%), and beagles (-1,200 or -17%)
 
  • Mice, rats and all other rodents together accounted for the majority of procedures -  77% of the total. Fish and birds were used in, respectively, 17% and 3% of procedures. The largest increases in the use of mice and of fish were for fundamental biological research, applied studies for human medicine or dentistry, and breeding. Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates, afforded special protection by the Act, were collectively used in less than one percent of all procedures.

Archived August 10 2009


Download the article (FRAME concerned over Home Office Stats 2008.pdf)