Use of GM animals quadruples (24/7/2007)

1.GM animals boost new test figures
2.Government figures show rise to over 3 million
3.Law failing animals used in medical research, says scientist who advised on guidelines


*The use of animals solely for procedures for breeding harmful mutant and genetically modified animals accounted for 1.1 million procedures (37%) in 2006, up 74,500 (7%) from 2005 as part of a continuing trend.

*Genetically modified (GM) [animals] were used in 1.04 million (34%) procedures in 2006, some 77,900 (8%) more than in 2005. The use of GM animals has more than quadrupled since 1995.


1.GM animals boosts new test figures
Press Association, 23 Jul 2007 [shortened]

Genetic modification experiments have pushed the number of licensed animal testing procedures in the UK beyond three million for the first time since 1991.

A total of 3.01 million procedures were reported to the Home Office in 2006, a 4% rise on the previous year.

Experts confirmed that most of the increase reported by the Home Office was due to genetic modification (GM).

Animals with altered genes are widely used as models for human diseases or to investigate biological mechanisms. They accounted for around a third of all the procedures conducted in 2006.

While more GM animals are being tested in licensed experiments the use of "normal" unmodified animals is falling.

After a dip in the 1990s, the annual total has been climbing steadily since 2001.


2.Government figures show rise to over 3 million scientific procedures on animals in 2006
Animal Defenders International (ADI), 23 Jul 2007

Latest Government figures for 2006 on animal research show a rise to a staggering 3.01 million of scientific procedures on animals in the UK, up 115,800 on 2005 or just under 10,000 a month. In addition the report showed that 133,800 more animals were used in experiments, representing a 5% increase on the previous year.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) said: "The increase in the use of animals in research is out of step with public opinion in the UK and Europe today.[1] It is outrageous that at a time when there are more non-animal methods of research available than ever before, the number of animal experiments in the UK continue to rise, and rise, and rise. The public has shown their distaste for genetically modified (GM) food and products and yet the use of GM animals has more than quadrupled since 1995, accounting for 37% of all procedures in 2006, up by 74,500. These increases are happening as results from animal research are increasingly shown to be unreliable, as well as being unethical and unnecessary."

Academics now dominate animal experimentation Universities carry out nearly half (45%) of procedures, with commercial interests such as drug companies, in second place carrying out 35% of procedures. This has been a dramatic shift in recent years. Previously the majority of animal experiments were conducted by drug companies.

Tests on macaque monkeys dropped by 12%, giving hope that the use of this species can be halted. The NAVS currently has a Written Declaration before the European Parliament calling for a phase out of primate tests, which has the backing of 296 MEPs.

2006 statistics on animal research – main points:

The number of scientific procedures increased to just over 3.01 million 4% up on 2005 four times the increase from 2004-2005 which was 41,254 (1%). Up by 115,800 it represents just under 10,000 more animal tests a month.

133,800 more animals were used (5% increase) in 2006 in experiments in the UK • The use of animals solely for procedures for breeding harmful mutant and genetically modified animals accounted for 1.1 million procedures (37%) in 2006, up 74,500 (7%) from 2005 as part of a continuing trend.

Genetically modified (GM) were used in 1.04 million (34%) procedures in 2006, some 77,900 (8%) more than in 2005. The use of GM animals has more than quadrupled since 1995.

About 698,400 (67%) GM animals were used to maintain breeding colonies, a similar proportion to last year. An additional 311,200 (30%) were used for fundamental biological research.

Number of horses & other equids was 701 up from 294, an increase of 407 or 230%.

Use of mice in experiments was up by 106,000 procedures, an increase of 5%.

Genetically modified mice: 1,237,563 up from 1,147,000 an increase of 90,563 • Only 38% of procedures used anaesthesia – i.e. 1,866,200 procedures, 62% of procedures, did not use any anaesthesia.

Although numbers of old world primates increased by 440 from 2004-2005, the increase in 2005 was marked at 11%. New world primate procedures stayed more or less level, down by only 13.

Use of animals in Appendix 1 on the CITES list or in Annex C.1 to the Council Regulation (EEC) 3626/82 amounted to 84 procedures performed on animals in this category in 2006, all ‘other’ birds.

Universities carry out nearly half (45%) of procedures with commercial interests in second place carrying out 35% of procedures.


3.Law failing animals used in medical research, says scientist who advised on guidelines
Ian Sample, science correspondent The Guardian, July 24 2007

· Review urged as annual procedures top 3m · Critic of arrangements is cabinet minister's father

Government legislation aimed at minimising the use and suffering of animals in medical research was branded a failure yesterday by the scientist father of cabinet minister Ed Balls.

Michael Balls, emeritus professor at Nottingham University, called for an urgent review of the way animal experiments are licensed, and criticised the government for granting scientists permission to conduct animal research even when the benefits were in doubt.

Prof Balls spoke out as the Home Office released its latest figures on the numbers of animals used in medical tests and a day before it faces a judicial review in the high court, following allegations by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) that it acted unlawfully and misled the public over animal experiments.

Prof Balls, who trained as a zoologist at Oxford University, advised government when the current animal testing legislation was drawn up in the mid-1980s. He has since become chairman of the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (Frame), a group that campaigns for alternatives to animals in research.

The Home Office figures revealed the number of procedures carried out on animals rose 4% to a 15-year high of 3.1m last year, making Britain the most active country in Europe for animal experiments. The total number of animals involved in experiments was 2.95m, a lower figure because some are used more than once. The rise is almost entirely accounted for by increases in the number of mice and fish used, said Jon Richmond, head of the scientific procedures division at the Home Office. In particular, there have been continuing rises in the creation of genetically-altered mice to study gene function, he said.

The majority of procedures involved mice, rats and other rodents, which accounted for 83% of experiments, while 9% were tests on fish and 4% on birds. Experiments on cats, dogs, horses and non-human primates were less than 1% of all procedures. Tests on monkeys and other non-human primates, were down 10% to 4,200.

Prof Balls said he was dismayed that progress in science had not produced more alternatives to using animals in research. "As a scientist I'm entitled to believe in modern technology to deal with these problems, but I'm disappointed that more effort hasn't been put into bringing the numbers down," he said.

"There's huge pressure to let modern science go ahead, but there's no high quality discussion on whether we need so many GM animals and whether they suffer unnecessarily.

"It's high time the way animal experiments are licensed in this country was re-examined. I had great hope that the system would ensure that animal use was reduced and suffering would be minimised when I was involved in the passage of the new law in 1985 and 1986, but it seems clear that it is failing in both regards."

Dr Richmond said the trend for more animals being used in research was likely to continue because scientists were increasingly using genetically modified mice to understand how genes work.

During the three-day judicial review, the high court will be asked to rule on whether the Home Office failed in its duty to ensure animal suffering was kept to a minimum during experiments on marmosets at Cambridge University in 2001. The BUAV alleges that the Home Office licensed the experiments under a category of "moderate" suffering, when they should have been classed as causing "substantial" suffering. The review will examine three other issues, including the post-operative care given to animals.

"We're questioning the whole way animal experiments are licensed. The statistics compiled by the Home Office would include far greater numbers of animal experiments that cause substantial suffering if the law was applied properly and this has serious implications on the public debate over animal research," a spokesperson for BUAV said.

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