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UK OFFICE : +44 (0)1260 273 802
BRUSSELS OFFICE : +32 (0)2 895 5709

Number of UK animal experiments falls

14/07/17Government

According to new Home Office annual figures, animal experiments carried out in the UK fell by 5% in 2016.

The report shows that 3.94 million procedures were carried out in the course of scientific research – a fall of 206,000 on 2015, with some 51% of the total figure accounted for by experiments, and 49% relating to the breeding of genetically modified animals for research.

Of the 2.02 million experimental procedures completed in 2016, the majority involved mice (60%), fish (14%), rats (12%) and birds (7%).

As of 2014, the Home Office statistics contain information on the severity of procedures carried out on animals.

This year, the majority of experimental procedures (46%) were classed as “mild”. This compares with 51% of experiments being categorised as mild the previous year.

Quoted by BBC News, Dr Sarah Wells, director of the Medical Research Council’s mouse genomics facility, the Mary Lyon Centre, said: “The management of colonies of genetically-altered animals is complex, but we are developing increasingly sophisticated ways of breeding and genotyping them and preserving their eggs and sperm. These efforts are reducing the number animals required for each experiment.”

Dr Penny Hawkins, head of the research animals team at the RSPCA, commented: “The significant, year-on-year increases in animal procedures after 2000 seem to have ended, and the overall number is now fluctuating around four million.”

She concluded by stating that the RSPCA wants to see “much more critical assessment of the value of various animal ‘models’ of disease and faster development and adoption of humane, non-animal alternatives.”