413 World-Leading Academics and Scientists Urge Home Office to Abolish Forced Swim Test

Posted by on January 24, 2024 | Permalink

As the Home Office reviews its policy on the forced swim test (FST), over 400 scientists, academics, and medical and veterinary professionals from around the world – including prominent bioethicist Peter Singer – sent an open letter today to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office Lord Sharpe of Epsom OBE urging him to prohibit the use of the widely discredited and abysmally cruel test in the UK.

forced swim test

Abolishing the FST could spare thousands of animals a terrifying ordeal and encourage scientists to focus on human-relevant research methods.

“The forced swim test is not a valid or reliable scientific method, and its use must be ended. … Despite the scientific and welfare concerns, the test is still widely used, and many of those who fund, authorise, or use the FST appear not to be aware of the debate around its use and interpretation.”

– Open letter signed by 413 scientists, academics, and medical and veterinary professionals

The Forced Swim Test Explained

The FST is an experiment that induces panic in small, vulnerable animals by forcing them into inescapable cylinders of water, where they fear they may drown. The animals attempt to climb the steep sides of the container and even dive underwater, desperate to find a means of escape. The experiment is conducted under the erroneous assumption that it can reveal something about mental health conditions in humans.

Will the Home Office Ban This Cruel Test?

The Home Office is currently reviewing its policy on the FST in the UK. Advice made public last year from the Animals in Science Committee – an independent advisory body to the Home Office on issues relating to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – suggested that many licences to conduct the test had been granted without proper scrutiny and concluded that the test has significant limitations.

PETA is calling for all licences to be revoked and for the FST to be ended in the UK.

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recently acknowledged that the FST has a significant adverse impact on animals. The council announced that the test must not be used in new projects for modelling human depression or anxiety, the treatment of these conditions, nor other reasons without compelling justification. Those currently using the FST must conduct a review of their project within three months.

Take Action for Mice and Rats

Join PETA and world-leading academics and scientists in calling for an end to the FST. Take urgent action to take a stand against the torment of mice and rats: