1,000 More Animals Per Week Used in UK Labs
Yesterday saw the publication of the government’s annual statistics on the use of animals in scientific procedures. The figures published cover 2011 and show a 3 per cent rise over the previous year and a staggering 40 per cent rise since 2000. In the 2010 coalition agreement, the government claimed it would “work to reduce” numbers of animals used in research, and this looks like another broken promise. In total, 68,000 more animals suffered this year than last – that’s more than 1,000 animals every week – yet the Home Office still has no meaningful strategy to reduce the number of animals being used in research and apparently no clue how to do so.
There are many causes for concern in these figures, but the massive leap in the number of experiments on cats (26 per cent) is a sign that public opinion counts for nothing in regulating experiments. What is particularly disturbing is that the total number of individual cats used has hardly changed at all – that means even more experiments and even longer periods of suffering.
These figures show that the need for an informed public debate has never been greater, but statistics can’t tell us what happened to the cats and other animals, can’t reveal the suffering animals endure in laboratories and can’t uncover the failings of this slipshod, archaic and ineffective approach to science. Right now, a blanket secrecy clause in the legislation keeps members of the public from finding out exactly what kind of misery their taxes are funding and their government is allowing. That has to change: freedom of information rules must apply to all public bodies conducting or regulating animal experiments. The veil over the reality of animal testing must be pulled away now.