Don’t Worry About Vivisection – the Government Has It in Hand

Posted by on July 22, 2011 | Permalink

Household products

© iStockPhoto / AnikaSalsera

We’ve been waiting more than a year, but on Monday, the government finally unveiled its grand plan to reduce the number of animals used for vivisection.

First, the good news. As promised, the government is taking steps to end the testing of household products on animals. This is an issue that I raised in meetings with key Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs before the election, and as long overdue as this is, the Coalition deserves credit for being the government finally willing to take action. It also looks like they will use a wide definition of such products, including things like paint, which is very welcome. However, they are intending to “consult” on this issue, so it isn’t clear exactly when the ban will happen. Although the number of animals actually used for testing household products is small, every one counts, and there is no excuse for further delay in ending this outrage. We will be maintaining the pressure on them over this.

Receiving far less attention in the media, despite appearing in the same statement, was the government’s “strategy” designed to fulfil the Coalition’s pledge to “work to reduce the use of animals in scientific procedures”. We were pleased when the government made this pledge back in post-election days, but the wording already rang an alarm bell – why not just pledge to reduce numbers? The policy, now that it’s here, turns out to be an unimaginative repackaging of existing initiatives and shows no commitment to actually changing things.  Massive and shameful rises in animal experiments over the last decade obviously require decisive, cross-government policy actions, not tinkering at the edges. Tinkering is all that’s being offered, and this is a feeble and half-hearted gesture that utterly fails to address the highest number of animals used in UK labs for a generation.

Remember: the ban on animal testing of household products is not in force yet. Please make sure that the household products you buy are cruelty-free.