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Animal Testing Increase Met With Outrage By Campaigners

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A rise in the number of animals being used in scientific experiments has been met with anger by campaigners.

On Tuesday the Home Office announced in the annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals report that in 2011 over 3.79m experiments were started on animals – a rise of 2% - or 68,100 - since 2010.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) pointed out that the Coalition had pledged to end the testing of household products on animals and to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.

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The number of animals experimented on has risen, according to the Home Office

It said in a statement that it was “appalled by the lack of progress to reduce animal suffering”.

The Home Office report shows that since 1987 the number of animal experiments had increased by 160,000 and that in 2011 over a million more animals were used in experiments compared to the year 2000.

This figure is equivalent to beginning 10,391 experiments every day, BUAV said.

The BUAV Chief Executive Michelle Thew stated: “The government has so far got away with doing nothing on its post-election pledge to work to reduce the number of animal experiments.

“Millions of animals continue to suffer and die in our laboratories. This lack of progress is completely unacceptable. We need to see meaningful and lasting changes for animals in laboratories.

“As a nation of animal lovers, the UK should be leading the way in reducing animal testing. Unfortunately, these latest statistics show that the trend is actually going in the opposite direction.

“Furthermore, there is no evidence that this appalling suffering is producing any meaningful benefit to humankind because the government and research industry persistently refuse to subject animal testing to rigorous review.”

The Director of Research and Toxicology for The Humane Society International/UK, Troy Seidle, meanwhile, described the figures as deeply depressing.

He said: “Decades of over-reliance on animal experiments has left a legacy of faulty disease models and failing drug discovery. Yet another increase in the number of animals suffering in British laboratories is deeply depressing news for science, medical progress and animal welfare.

"It demonstrates the government’s failure to grasp the sea-change in attitude needed to escape the scientific cul-de-sac of animal experimentation. Innovative and human-relevant research advances are taking place amidst an astonishingly impressive biotechnology revolution and yet we continue to paralyse rats, poison dogs and brain damage monkeys in the millions. What luddites these statistics make of Britain.”

Animal rights group PETA also criticised the Coalition for breaking its election pledge and said there were "many causes for concern" in the statistics.

The Home Office said: “The commitment to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research is being delivered through a science-led programme headed by the United Kingdom’s National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

“As the annual report explains, the National Centre is closely involving many others in this delivery and the programme is focusing on refinement as well as reduction and replacement and is coordinating action to minimise and reduce animal use and suffering.”