Labour’s Animal Welfare Plan
Animal Free Research UK is pleased to see that animal welfare is slowly becoming more prominent in UK political debate, brought into the spotlight today with the release of the Labour Party’s 50-point plan on animal welfare. The inclusion of policy points regarding animals used in research is particularly encouraging.
The Labour party has promised to do the following in the research sector:
- Make project licenses open and transparent (without revealing names and addresses)
- Commit to ending ‘severe’ suffering
- Review testing to eliminate avoidable tests
- Ban the export of animals for testing
- Encourage research into non-animal alternatives
The Labour Party’s promises to ban the export of animals for use in medical research and also to encourage research into non-animal alternatives are reassuring. While this is a good first step, we believe that some points could be progressed further. The commitment to end only ‘severe’ suffering should be extended to cover all degrees of suffering. The ‘severe’ category only applies to 6% (114,000) of experimental procedures, while the total number of procedures causing some form of harm or suffering stands at 88%, or 1,787,000. In 2016 alone, 3.87 million animals were tested on.
Examples of successful animal replacement do already exist, many funded by Animal Free Research UK. Our researchers at the University of Dundee are even now pioneering techniques that allow medical professionals to train on human cadavers, saving pigs from being unnecessarily used for the same purpose. Heart surgeons will be among those benefiting from this animal-free training, helping to keep more hearts pumping on Valentine’s Day.
Animal Free Research UK is working hard to drive innovation in the UK science sector by supporting and funding techniques to replace all animals used in medical research. We would like to see policy makers accept these techniques and pull UK medical research into the 21st century.
Our vision is to see a world where animals are not used in medical research. To achieve this we need more investment and stronger initiatives from the Government, aimed at supporting research into animal replacement with a focus on early career scientists.