Group slams animal experiments rise

Animal rights campaigners have condemned an increase in the number of animal experiments performed in the UK as "a national disgrace".

According to figures from the Home Office, the number of procedures in 2010 rose by 105,186 to just over 3.7 million, an increase of around 3%.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, said: "It is a national disgrace that the UK animal testing figures have increased for 2010 and the Home Office should be ashamed of itself.

"There has been a huge increase in the use of new world primates while the Home Office has pursued a relaxation of controls to make it easier and quicker to get a licence to use animals."

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) condemned the rise as "shameful".

A spokesperson said: "These figures should be a 120-decibel wake-up call to the public and the ministers who claim to represent them, especially when a leading Dutch university has just this week announced it has been able to cut animal tests by more than a third in the last five years with no fall in scientific productivity."

The hike was mainly down to breeding of animals that are genetically modified and those that have potentially harmful mutations, which was up by 6% to 1.6 million. The increase was mainly mice and fish, although if the breeding of these animals is excluded, the total number of procedures was up 1% on 2009, to 2.1 million.

More experiments were carried out on non-human primates, with a rise of 10% overall and 78% for new world monkeys, which are those found in central and south America. There was also an increase in the number of procedures involving mice, up 2%, birds, 12%, and fish, 23%. The number of rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses and pigs dropped, as did the number of cats, down 32%, and dogs, down 2%.

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said: "The figures once again show the important work being done in this country to regulate animal procedures and ensure the highest standards of animal protection are upheld."

David Pruce, chief executive of Understanding Animal Research, said: "Over the last 15 years, the number of normal animals used in research has gone down. The simple breeding of a GM animal counts as a procedure in the UK. The increased breeding of these animals has skewed the general trend since 1995."