Animal rights activists have expressed concern by the rise in the number of animals being experimented on in Scotland.
Over 600,000 animals were subjected to tests north of the Border out of a total 4.12 million who were tested UK wide in 2013 – the highest on modern record.
The figures were released by the Home Office after a written question was submitted by Graeme Morrice, the Labour MP for Livingston.
Experiments on dogs increased by 61% to 936 with primate experiments increasing by 21% and tests on horses increased 10% to 1,887, mice were used in 406,502 experiments, a 12% increase, guinea pigs in 1,390
experiments up by 5%, birds in 17,224 experiments and cats were used in 11 experiments an increase of 450%.
The majority of the animals tested were killed at the end of the experiments.
The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) President Jan Creamer said: “It is shocking that so many animal tests take place in Scottish universities. These experiments are mainly curiosity-driven, and cause a great deal of suffering to the animals. We must urgently address the lack of scientific and public accountability by repealing the Section 24 secrecy clause. Please visit NAVS.org.uk to help animals suffering in pointless experiments in Scottish university laboratories.”
She added: “We are deeply concerned that genetic modification of animals is being allowed to simply increase year on year. NAVS investigations have revealed a great deal of pain and suffering is caused by breeding GM animals. ‘Donors’ and ‘parents’ are subjected to repeated surgeries, egg collection, implantation and repeated blood and tissue testing. Their babies can suffer severe deformities, painful swellings, fused lungs and premature death. The vast majority of babies are discarded and killed because only 3-5% possess the desired trait.”
Genetic modification (GM) is one of the key areas in animal experimentation and has seen the biggest growth. More than half of the experiments in the UK, 1.6 million, are now on genetically modified and harmful mutant animals. The statistics show that over half of all the animals used in experiments in Scotland (335,116) were genetically modified.
According to NAVS the process involves animals being given a deliberate genetic defect and prolonged suffering arises from repeated surgeries, egg collection, implantation plus repeated blood and tissue testing. The animals live in tiny spaces in sterile and barren environments with no stimulation. NAVS claim the GM process itself can cause longer pregnancies, higher birth weights and increased deaths at birth.
Graeme Morrice, Labour MP for Livingston said: “Although there has been a slight reduction, it is disappointing that universities in Scotland are still using so many animals in outdated tests.
“Many of my constituents share my concerns about these high numbers which is why I am joining the NAVS in calling for more progress to be made towards phasing out these unreliable animal tests.”
An investigation by NAVS found that monkeys are specially bred on the island of Mauritius to be used for laboratory experiments in the UK.
Earlier this year one of their investigation teams gained access to a breeding facility and recorded horrific scenes of baby monkeys torn from their screaming mothers to be tattooed and pregnant monkeys manhandled and pinned down for routine procedures.
Scottish celebrity supporters of NAVS include actress Annette Crosbie, and nutritionist and TV personality Gillian McKeith who have both spoken out on the issue.
NAVS say the UK Government is currently undertaking a review of secrecy in animal experiments covered in Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act which they describe as the ‘secrecy clause’.
The UK Government stated stated in a recent public consultation that its preferred option is to repeal Section 24, however it intends to replace it with new legislation, leading to fears that the UK could follow in the footsteps of the US, where draconian ‘ag-gag’ laws criminalise whistle blowers and undercover investigators who reveal the reality of animal facilities.
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