Rise in animal testing shows why Lush Prize is essential
The number of experiments conducted on animals in British labs rose last year, according to new figures just released by the government. In 2013, 4.12 million ‘scientific procedures’ were started on animals, an increase of 11,554 compared with 2012.
The statistics came just two weeks before nominations close for the Lush Prize, the largest fund rewarding initiatives to end animal tests. Lush Prize spokesperson Craig Redmond stated: “this shocking increase in animal testing shows just why the Lush Prize is essential, as it provides a joined-up approach to help end animal experiments across a spectrum of work, from campaigns to lobbying to scientific non-animal methods.”
The Lush Prize annually awards £250,000 across five categories of science and campaigning.
Anti-vivisection campaigners were quick to express outrage at the figures. According to the BUAV: “more animal experiments were carried out in 2013 than at any point since the new statistics regime was introduced in 1986 and is the third consecutive increase since the Coalition Government took office in 2010 pledging to ‘work to reduce the number of animals used in scientific procedures.’”
The numbers of mice, fish, rabbits, pigs, gerbils, reptiles and non-human primates also increased in 2013.
Nine percent of all experiments – 375,000 ‘procedures’ – were undertaken for toxicological or other safety evaluation purposes. This area of research is of particular relevance to the Lush Prize. Although this represents a 0.5% decrease (2,000 fewer experiments) compared with 2012, this was mainly due to a decline in the use of rats but there was also a rise in the use of fish and mice. Most (92%) toxicology experiments on animals “conformed to legal or regulatory requirements”; 29,900 (8%) experiments were not required by law to be conducted.
Of the five categories in the Lush Prize, the Lobbying Prize supports global efforts to effect regulatory change to both end the requirement for animal testing and encourage the support for non-animal testing methods. Through this Prize, we have funded the Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments (for their work with Swedish regulators to replace animal testing) and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations and PETA India (for their work with Indian regulators on a cosmetics testing ban).
Universities accounted for the majority of animal experiments in 2013, undertaking 2.02 million (49%) of the 4.12 million procedures. They held 77% of the project licences required to conduct experiments on animals.
The Young Researcher category of the Lush Prize funds the work of post-graduate students to work exclusively in non-animal testing. So far, eight young researchers from six countries have received a total of £100,000 from the Prize fund.
In the same week that the British figures were released, the Israeli government also announced a 6% increase in animal testing, with 299,144 animals used in labs in 2013. New figures released for the state of Victoria in Australia reveal that koalas and pound dogs were amongst the 1675 animals killed every day in labs in 2012.
Nominations for the Lush Prize 2014 end on 25th July. Submissions can be made on the Lush Prize website.