Court review for animal testing

Via the Beeb:

Court review for animal testing
By Paul Rincon and Mark Kinver
Science reporters, BBC News

The UK government is being taken to court over its duty to cut suffering to lab animals, as figures show another rise in animal tests.

News of the judicial review coincided with the release of official Home Office figures showing a moderate rise in animal experiments last year.

A total of three million procedures were carried out on animals in 2006, a rise of 4% on the previous year.

Scientists said tests were necessary to help cure life-threatening diseases.

Home Office minister Meg Hillier commented: “Where animal research is the only option, we will continue to ensure that the balance between animal welfare and scientific advancement is maintained.”

However, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav) announced it was taking the government to the High Court in London on Tuesday over the fate of laboratory animals.

The case will seek a declaration that the government has failed to ensure animal suffering in Home Office licensed laboratories is kept to a minimum. The judge will be asked to order the Home Office to re-examine its licensing regulations.

In total, 2.95 million animals were used in procedures last year in England, Scotland and Wales.

The majority of procedures – 83% – involved mice, rats and other rodents. The remainder involved primarily fish (9%), birds (4%) and reptiles/amphibians (1%).

Dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates receive special protection under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. These were used in less than half of 1% of the procedures.

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