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UK second highest for animal experiments
- dogs given ‘special protection’ according to figures

THE UK has the dubious distinction of being one of the two top countries in Europe for the use of animals in laboratory experiments – including experiments on included 841 dogs - according to the latest figures.

France topped the European list by using a total of 2.3m animals with the UK second on 1.87m. Germany was marginally the third biggest user on 1.82m although this represented a 12 per cent fall on previous figures. The use of animals by the top three countries represents a staggering 50 per cent of all animal experiments in the EU. In all more than 12m animals were used for testing across the EU.

The figures for 2005 - the latest available -show a 3.2 per cent rise before the figures from the 10 new member states were included. More than 60 per cent of animals were used in research and development for human medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry and in fundamental biological research.

Production and quality control of products and devices in human medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry involved 15.3 per cent of experiments. Toxicological and other safety evaluation represented 8 per cent of the total.

Animal campaigners who claimed member countries had failed on a pledge to cut the number of experiments immediately condemned the EU figures.

The Dr Hadwen Trust, the UK's leading medical research charity which campaigns to end animal experiments, said Britain's record was shameful and if genetic modification experiments on mice had been included in the figures, the UK would have topped the list.

The Trust's spokeswoman Wendy Higgins said: ‘This is a sad indictment of the Government's utter failure to reduce laboratory animal suffering. Home Office assurances that animals are only used when absolutely necessary ring hollow when in the 21st century we still kill more animals in laboratories than almost any other European country.’

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAVC) condemned the figures as ‘appalling’. BUAV Chief Executive Michelle Thew said: ‘Despite European Commission and member state’s individual promises to reduce and replace the use of animals in experiments, the total animals used in experiments in 2005 rose to 12.1 million – representing a 3.2 per cent increase over and above the added numbers from the inclusion of 10 new member states in the 2005 report. ‘We are shocked and appalled to hear that the number of animals condemned to lives of suffering in EU laboratories has hit a ten year high. It is simply morally indefensible that in the 21st century some of the most advanced laboratories in the world are still pouring tens of millions of public money into the type of research that belongs in the dark ages.

‘For example, there was a 107 per cent increase in cosmetic research on animals. We now as a society must insist that our politicians listen to the overwhelming voice of European citizens and act now to end the suffering. They have a unique opportunity under the current revision of the directive that governs animal testing to close the door on outdated practice, and move the EU forward into an era of modern, humane research.’

The UK figures reveal just over 1.87 million animals were used for the first time in procedures started in 2005, a rise of 57,000 on the number reported for 2002. 1,463,565 (78 per cent) of the animals used were mice and rats.

Cats, dogs, horses and non-human primates are given special protection in the UK and together amounted to 9,104 animals, 0.5 per cent of the animals used - a reduction of 841 compared with 2002.

Non-human primates accounted for 3,115 animals, 0.16 per cent of animals used - 58 fewer than in 2002. France at 3,789 was the top user of primates and also of dogs with 5,500.
The total number of cats used across the EU was 3,600, a decrease of 4.8 per cent. The largest increase was in the use of hamsters which rose by 41 per cent. A total of 6m mice were used.