Dr Katy Taylor tells Edinburgh the facts

30/10/2013

Last week, the BUAV criticized the sharp increases reported in the number of GM animals, primates and dogs used in research in Scotland during 2012

Following these revelations, the BUAV’s Dr Katy Taylor shared her views in the Edinburgh Evening News on 28th October 2013:

“I work for the BUAV, one of the world’s oldest animal protection organisations that campaigns for a world where no one wants or believes we need to experiment on animals. Sadly, over the last ten years animal experiments have been steadily rising in Great Britain and we are now at a 25-year high of over 4 million animals used every year.

“Scotland has a proud science heritage of which Edinburgh is at the forefront. Unfortunately, Scotland is also responsible for a large proportion of the animal experiments in Great Britain. 623,194 animals were used last year, according to a parliamentary answer from Shadow Home Office Minister, Diane Johnson. Last year, there was an increase in the use of dogs to over 500 individuals, mainly beagles. There was also an increase in the use of non-human primates, our closest evolutionary relative. Scottish facilities used nearly 500 macaque monkeys, many of whom have to be flown in from breeding centres outside of Europe where native populations are being impacted to fuel the industry’s testing needs. Not surprisingly therefore, the use of dogs, non-human primates and seeking a consistent downturn in animal experiments are the main focus of the BUAV’s campaigning activity. We are particularly keen to expose the UK Government’s -clearly broken - election promise to actually work to reduce animal experiments!

“Universities are increasingly responsible for the increase in animal experimentation and are now the main location of experiments across the UK. It always puzzles me as a biologist myself, why academics are so wedded to the use of animals and so reluctant to embrace modern technologies. Edinburgh University itself is no exception. Last year, Edinburgh was responsible for a third of Scotland’s animal tests (226,341 animals). The details of some of these will - and should – not only surprise but disgust. Tests have involved forcing rodents to inhale diesel fumes to investigate their harmful effects (already known), deliberately inflicting high levels of stress on baby animals to see if having a stressful childhood cause mental health issues in adulthood (already known) and restricting the food of rats to see if it makes them more ‘horny’ (do we need to know?). For the childhood stress experiment, baby rats were forced to swim in a water filled tank from which they could not escape. The next day they were pushed into narrow plastic tubes so they could not move. On the final day, they were placed in chambers where they were given electric foot shocks.

“The public will be forgiven if they thought such speculative and apparently cruel research was a thing of the past. Such experiments are not in need of urgent replacement; they don’t need to be conducted at all. Much of what animal researchers in universities wish to know is already known based on ethical research in humans. Desire to prove the principle in animals should not be a valid reason for causing harm. These experiments will not have a beneficial effect on human health and as a largely publicly-funded body people have a right to discover the extent of animal suffering behind closed doors.”

Dr Taylor is Head of Science to the UK’s leading animal protection organisation on animal testing issues known as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). An animal welfare scientist by training, Dr Taylor is now one of only a handful of experts in Europe with genuinely extensive knowledge of the scientific, legal and ethical issues regarding the use of animals in testing.