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More than 53,000 animals experimented on in Wales last year

United Kingdom
A surge in the number of animals being experimented on in Wales has been condemned by anti-vivisection campaigners. Home Office figures obtained by Cardiff North Conservative MP Jonathan Evans show there has been a 14.2% jump in the number of animals on which procedures were carried out in Wales – up from 46,702 in 2010 to 53,311 last year. This included 44,356 mice, 4,249 rats, 3,400 fish, 746 guinea pigs, 279 sheep and 254 birds.

The Bishop of Monmouth, Dominic Walker, said he was appalled by the increase in animal testing. He said: “This is a shocking rise in the number of animals being used for experiments in Wales. Animals are sentient beings and how we treat them is a measure of how civilised a society we are. Today there are reliable methods of testing drugs and cosmetics which do not involve animals – such as those promoted by the Dr Hadwen Trust – and I would like to see our institutions in Wales support and invest in these.”

There was uproar in July when it was revealed that the eyelids of kittens had been sewn shut and newborns were raised in total darkness in experiments at Cardiff University.

Last year there were 54,330 procedures involving animals in Wales, compared to 47,918 in 2010, an increase of 6,412 (13.4%).

Michelle Thew of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection said: “The BUAV is deeply disappointed that over 53,000 animals were used in experiments in Wales in 2011. This is an alarming increase of 14.2% on the previous year. Animal experimentation is an issue of strong public concern and we believe the people of Wales will be shocked to learn of the large increase. This scale of animal suffering is unacceptable. We need to see meaningful and lasting changes for animals in laboratories. The UK Government should fulfil its pledge to reduce animal experiments.”

Almost all (96%) procedures were carried out at universities or medical schools, 1,791 (3%) at public health laboratories and 173 (less than 1%) at commercial organisations. None were started at NHS hospitals, Government departments, other public bodies or non-profit making organisations.

Of the 53,311 animals used in Welsh experiments, 28,841 were genetically modified and 821 were animals with a harmful genetic defect.

According to Conservative Home Office minister James Brokenshire in an answer to Cardiff North’s Mr Evans, 53% of the project licences granted in were in the “mild severity banding,” 46% in moderate and 1% in substantial or unclassified.

Mr Brokenshire stated: “There was one recorded infringement of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 at a designated establishment in Wales during 2010. It did not result in a prosecution.”

A new law regulating animal research will come into force on January 1, 2013. It will require the suffering experienced by each animal to be assessed and reported.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “While we recognise the need to use animals in order to help develop potentially life-saving drugs and treatments, we are also working to reduce the use of animals in research. As part of this ongoing work, we will continue to promote measures that will ‘replace, reduce and refine’ the use of animals in scientific testing.”

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