Animal experiment statistics

The annual statistics publication relates to scientific procedures performed using living animals under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

Regulated procedures are defined in the 1986 Act as any procedure applied to a protected animal for an experimental or other scientific purpose, or for an educational purpose, that may have the effect of causing an animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by the introduction of a needle in accordance with good veterinary practice. In addition, the breeding of an animal is a regulated procedure if the animal is bred from, or is the descendant of, an animal whose genes have mutated or have been modified and if this modification may have the potential to cause harm.

The Home Office collects information on regulated procedures taking place in Great Britain and publishes an annual report in July, which details the procedures that took place in the previous calendar year. The full reports are available to read on the gov.uk website and come with a useful user guide.

The information collected and published by the Home Office includes: the number of procedures carried out on animals; the number of animals experimented on; the species and genetic status of the animals experimented on; the purpose of the procedures; and the severity of suffering the procedures inflicted on the animals.

3.8% decrease in animal experiments in 2017 is too little too late 

Animal Free Research UK has condemned the wasted opportunity to make real progress, with a decrease of just 3.8% in experiments on animals (3.79 million) in GB laboratories in 2017 announced by the Home Office on 19th July 2018. The total number of animals used for the first time was 3,721,774 (3.87 million, 2016) a decrease of only 3.77% on the previous year.

The creation of genetically modified animals who were bred but not used in experiments accounted for 50.2% (1.90 million), down 0.55% on the previous year (1.91 million, 2016). 719,326 genetically modified animals were used in experiments.

Experiments on animals for basic research accounted for 55% of all remaining animal experiments (1.04 million experiments), down less than 0.1% on the previous year (1.12 million, 2016). Basic research aims to answer scientists’ questions about specific knowledge gaps, often for medical research in the hope that it will lead to treatment for human diseases.

Dr Hazel Jackson

Dr Hazel Jackson

This almost negligible decrease in the number of animal experiments is simply too little too late.

Instead of continuing to pump money into outdated, cruel and often misleading animal research, more needs to be done to invest in the UK’s expert researchers who are developing innovative, human-relevant methods which are best placed to discover treatments for debilitating human diseases.

– Dr Hazel Jackson, Science Director

Further 2017 statistics

The 1,885,933 experimental procedures completed in 2017 included 3,847 experiments on 2496 dogs, 2960 experiments on 2215 primates, 198 experiments on 71 cats and 10,600 experiments on 288 horses. Further experiments were carried out on mice, 58.1% (1.09 million procedures); fish, 16.3% (308,340 procedures); rats, 12.4% (233,676 procedures) and sheep, 2.5% (47,482 procedures).

The severity assessments for 1.89 million experimental procedures (not including breeding) completed in 2017 show a fall in the number of procedures assessed as moderate (down 14.6% from 2016) or severe (down 16.7% from 2016). In total, 31.3% of all procedures were assessed as moderate or severe compared with 34.3% in 2016.

The scale of animal experiments in GB is worse than we knew

The Home Office published some new statistics for the first time in 2018, which indicate that the level of animal experiments in the UK is considerably worse than we knew.

These new statistics show that in 2017, an additional 1.81 million animals who were not genetically altered were bred for research but were killed or died without being used.

85% of these animals may have been killed solely so their tissues could be used in experiments, killed at a breeding establishment, or were going to be experimented on but died beforehand. The other 15% of these animals were bred in the process of creating or maintaining genetically altered animals, but were found to not be genetically altered so haven’t been counted up until now.

That means over 5.5 million animals suffered in British laboratories in 2017 – a huge increase on the already appalling 3.7 million animals previously counted.

Some of the reasons given for the huge number of additional animals needlessly killed include that the animals were breeding animals, the wrong gender for a particular purpose or they were a ‘necessary’ surplus.

These animals have never been included in the yearly statistical release, published every year since 1986, but their numbers will now be collected and published every 5 years.

Page last modified on February 12, 2019 2:37 pm

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