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BUAV asks where is the Government’s Reduction Strategy?



The BUAV has responded to today’s announcement by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) of £4.8 million funding for grants to develop new testing methods, infrastructure and technologies. 

BUAV Chief Executive, Michelle Thew, who was also interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning about this announcement, stated: ‘Any allocation of funding to reduce animal experiments is always welcome. However, the Government’s promise to work to reduce animal experiments contrasts with the apparently inexorable rise – in 2012, to over 4 million animals. The projects to be funded, such as that to improve mouse cages, may help reduce suffering for some individual animals, but they fail to show any coherent Government strategy to keep its promise to reverse the soaring numbers of animals suffering every year. Clear action is needed.

The Government has now failed for a third year on its post-election pledge to work to reduce the number of animal experiments. In 2012 we saw a 9% increase in the number of animals used in research. This lack of progress is completely unacceptable. Does the Government intend to do anything at all to try to keep its promise? The BUAV will continue to push for a Government strategy on how the number of animals will be reduced.’ 

In 2012, over 4.11 million experiments were started on animals, an increase of 8% (+317,200 experiments) compared with 2011. This is the equivalent to beginning 11,260 experiments every day. 

There was a large increase in the use of non-human primates (+22%) and animals with genetic modifications (+22%), who are bred speculatively to include harmful genes but are often killed without being used at all. 

Shockingly, even in those areas where valid alternatives exist, the numbers of animals used is still unacceptably high or has even increased. For example, both skin irritation and Draize eye irritation tests were carried out on rabbits during 2012 despite there being a valid alternative. Furthermore, there was a 9% increase in pyrogenicity (fever causing) tests that use rabbits and a 20% increase in controversial acute lethal toxicity tests (mostly carried out to test botulinum toxin, commonly known as botox). Both these types of batch tests have validated alternatives but the government is simply not enforcing their use.

For further information on the BUAV's Broken Promises campaign visit: