EU labs using fewer animals
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2013:
BRUSSELS, LONDON–– The European Coalition to End Animal
Experiments on December 12, 2013 “cautiously welcomed a decrease of
4.3% in the number of animal experiments carried out across the European
Union,” representing 519,501 fewer animals used than in 2008, when
EU data was last published.
But the coalition attributed the drop to the “economic
climate, as none of the EU member countries have a committed strategy
for reduction in place.”
The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments includes 26
organizations operating in 24 of the 28 EU member states.
The numbers released in December 2013 Seventh Statistical Report
by the European Commission actually are for the year 2011, covering the
27 nations that were EU members at that time. Croatia was admitted in
Laboratories within the EU used 11.5 million animals altogether,
including 8.8 million rodents, a decrease of 7%. Other species used
less often included non-human primates, down 36%; pigs, down 17%;
dogs, down 16%; and cats, down 9%.
Totals of 6,095 non-human primates, 77,280 pigs, 17,896 dogs,
and 3,713 cats were used. Use of fish increased 39%, to a total of 1.4
million. Use of rabbits increased 8% to 358,213.
Twelve percent more horses, donkeys, and ponies were used in
experimentation, and 75% more wild carnivores, but the totals were
only 6,686 and 4,982, respectively.
“Fifty-five percent of the experiments were carried out in
only three member counties––France, Germany, and the U.K.,”
noted Michelle Thew, president of both the European Coalition to End
Animal Experiments and the British Union Against Vivisection. “These
countries should be leading the way in pioneering humane alternatives.”
About 4.1 million animals were used in the U.K. in 2012,
according to statistical published annually by the Home Office, which
regulates animal experimentation within the U.K.––an increase of
317,200 from 2011.
The Seventh Statistical Report by the European Commission was
released two days after the Imperial College of Science, Technology, &
Medicine in London responded to a BUAV undercover exposé of alleged
cruelty in its laboratories by pledging to “significantly” improve.
Founded in 1907, Imperial College is usually ranked among the
top 10 scientific universities in the world.
Employed for seven months at Imperial College, the BUAV
investigator “documented a catalog of shortcomings and wrongdoing by
staff and researchers,” summarized a BUAV media statement, including
“a failure to provide adequate anaesthesia and pain relief,
incompetence and neglect, and highly disturbing methods used to kill
animals,” allegedly including decapitating rats with scissors and
breaking the necks of some small animals with a metal rod.
An ensuing review of Imperial College laboratory procedures led
by Steve Brown, director of the Medical Research Council’s Mammalian
Genetics Unit at Harwell, in October 2013 recommended 33 specific
“While our focus has been on Imperial College,” Brown told
media, “our recommendations should serve as a useful framework for
other institutions to review their policies and practices.”
Said Thew, “A separate inquiry into the BUAV allegations at
Imperial College is being undertaken by the Home Office, and is
expected to be published soon.”
The Home Office investigation will be the first of note to be
completed since the November 16, 2013 appointment of Member of
Parliament Norman Baker, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, as
the Home Office minister responsible for approving animal experiments.
Baker, who represents Lewes, East Sussex, in 2009 petitioned
then-prime minister Gordon Brown seeking an end to animal research.
Said Baker then, “It is time for the government to get a grip on this
issue and push for a practical road map toward eliminating animal