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FRAME chairman offers hope for an end to animal experiments

Speaking on a BBC World Service broadcast, Prof Balls said: “I believe that if we really wanted to, we could work steadily towards a day in 10 to 20 years time when animal experimentation will have disappeared.” 


He said that new technologies enabled scientists to carry out much more work by using computers, or at a cell or molecular level, removing the need for many of the current animal tests. Recent developments meant that it was possible to carry out tests on human volunteers that it would not have been safe to do only a few years ago. But he expressed dismay that the number of animal procedures carried out in the UK was still rising.


FRAME was one of the organisations involved in proposals to reduce animal experiments that were put forward in 1983 and that formed the basis for the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.  “The idea was that there would be a progressive reduction in laboratory animal use, but all these years later, I am amazed that the number of animal procedures is higher than it was in 1987, when the 1986 Act came into force.” 


Other participants in the broadcast were less optimistic, even suggesting that an end to animal experiments would not take place within the 21st century.  


The programme was one of a series called One Planet. In a two-part broadcast called “Animals and Us”, documentary maker Victor Schonfeld looked back on progress since he produced The Animals Film, 28 years ago.  At the start of the programme he admitted that he was a strong opponent of what he calls “animal exploitation” and that included experimentation in any form. 


A number of organisations contributed to the recording, including the US bodies the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and National Institutes of Health, the WHO and Yale Collaborating Center on Health Promotion Policy, and the Austrian Verein Gegen Tierfabriken (Association Against Animal Factories). The programme will be broadcast again on Sunday, January 10 at 02.30, 06.32 and 23.30 and is also available on the BBC i>Player on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p005nhv5 .


Archived February 1 2010