The BUAV is calling for Northern Ireland to exercise its powers to take swift action to reduce animal experiments as figures released today show almost no movement in the number of animal experiments since 2010.
New statistics show that 18,538 experiments were carried out on animals in Northern Irish laboratories in 2011 on 11,857 mice, 694 rats, 41 horses, 102 rabbits, 7 dogs, 19 cats, 2,223 sheep and 1,655 birds. The dogs and cats were re-used a number of times – 7 dogs faced 77 tests, and 19 cats endured 47 experiments.
Although power is devolved on this issue, the Northern Ireland Executive continues to follow animal testing policy from Westminster. A motion tabled by Alliance East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle, calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to develop a separate policy to Great Britain on the licensing and regulation of experiments on animals to secure positive change for animals in laboratories.
Animal experiments cause distress and suffering, and most animals are killed as part of the experiment. Contrary to popular belief, animals can still be used for a wide range of tests including for consumer products. The majority of animals experimented on in Northern Ireland in 2011 were used in curiosity based research which claims no specific benefit (64%).
• 71% of experiments were conducted with no anaesthesia
• 1,812 tests were toxicology (poisoning) experiments. Some animals recovered and were forced to endure multiple poisonings. 452 of these experiments were carried out to test food products.
• Universities conducted the most animal experiments in Northern Ireland (63%), followed by non-profit organisations such as charities (30%) and private companies (7%)
• 39% of the experiments involved genetically altered animals. 16% of experiments conducted were for breeding animals. Breeding genetically altered animals is counted as a procedure in itself as the animals born are prone to suffer from abnormalities.
The BUAV Chief Executive, Michelle Thew states: “Animal experimentation is a devolved issue in Northern Ireland, but policy from Whitehall is simply cut and pasted. We are disappointed that Northern Ireland has neglected this important issue and thousands of animals continue to suffer in laboratories. Northern Ireland should be taking the lead in imposing stricter controls on the use of animals and providing more transparent information for the public. We urge people to ask their MLA to sign the motion tabled by Chris Lyttle calling for Northern Ireland to have its own policy on the licensing and regulation of experiments on animals.”