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APHA signs Concordat on Openness on Animal Research

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has joined over 90 organisations including universities, charities, commercial companies and research councils, by signing the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.

The objective of the Concordat, which is supported by Professor Sir Mark Walport, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, is to increase awareness and understanding among the general public about the use of animals in science where no alternatives exist.

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APHA’s science is aimed at protecting Great Britain from the threat and impact of a wide variety of animal and wildlife diseases and issues including bovine TB, food-borne bacteria and antimicrobial resistance, many of which can also affect humans. This work provides scientific evidence that supports policy development for the government, European Union and internationally.

Signatories to the Concordat undertake to fulfil 4 commitments:

  1. We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  2. We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  3. We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  4. We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.

APHA’s main areas of research include:

  • bovine TB and development of vaccines and diagnostic tests for badgers and cattle
  • bacterial diseases and food safety, including food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Escherichia coli and bacterial pathogens such as Brucella and Mycoplasma
  • viral diseases including avian and mammalian viruses such as Newcastle disease, influenza and classical swine fever, zoonotic and wildlife viruses such as rabies and vector-borne diseases
  • transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)
  • wildlife management including wildlife diseases, human-wildlife conflicts and studies of welfare and behaviour.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/apha-signs-concordat-on-openness-on-animal-research

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Fighting for the Yorkshire beagles in the High Court

Cruelty Free International has taken legal action against the Home Office and its plans to expand a horrific Yorkshire beagle farm for animal experiments.

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Tens of thousands of dogs are imprisoned in laboratories around the world, and injected with or force-fed substances. They can suffer horrific effects such as vomiting, diarrhoea, internal bleeding, organ damage, seizures, paralysis and even death.

These poor animals are often supplied by purpose-built breeding facilities, which churn out litter after litter of puppies. They are then separated from their mothers and sent off to be experimented on. Their mothers, meanwhile, are generally kept as ‘breeding machines’ until they no longer ‘serve a purpose’ and are killed.

 

The story so far:
In 2011 animal breeding and rearing company, Bantin & Kingman Ltd (B&K), applied for planning permission to expand its Yorkshire beagle farm. This was so that it could breed thousands of dogs for experiments. But, following intensive campaigning, the application was rejected. The rejection was on the grounds that B&K had not provided enough information on how it would manage the noise from the dogs, which could be a ‘nuisance’ for local residents.

In 2013 B&K made a fresh application which addressed some of the planning concerns that had been raised previously. But part of its proposal to manage noise was to ensure dogs were not given any access to outdoor runs. However, EU law requires dog breeding establishments to provide dogs with outside access wherever possible. So it was no longer just a planning issue; there were legal implications too. B&K therefore needed permission from the UK Home Office not to have outside runs.

Astonishingly, B&K later claimed that denying dogs outdoor runs was to protect their health and ensure they were suitable for experiments. (They said this even though in the past dogs at the site did have outdoor runs, with no problems).

In mid-2015, Cruelty Free International was shocked to discover that the Home Office had granted B&K permission to keep dogs indoors at all times. This was on the basis that outdoor runs could compromise their health by exposing them to infections carried by wildlife. This could in turn, it was claimed, invalidate the results of laboratory tests.

The Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, who was overseeing the planning appeal, was then satisfied that there would not be a noise issue for locals (with dogs being kept indoors). So he approved B&K’s planning application to expand.

This means that denying dogs access to outdoor runs for ‘health reasons’ conveniently removed the noise nuisance problem that had so far prevented B&K’s application from progressing.

A violation of EU law
Cruelty Free International believe that had the Home Office not authorised B&K to keep dogs indoors at all times, the application would probably have been rejected by the Secretary of State. This would mean B&K would not be allowed to expand and breed thousands of dogs for use in experiments.

The decision is an outrage and strongly suggests the Home Office wanted to support B&K’s planning appeal. It has failed to carry out ‘due diligence’ in order to make a reasoned judgement. For example, it has not cited any evidence regarding infections to support its claims.

So not only is it cruel to deny dogs access to fresh air, but CFI believe the decision is a violation of EU law.

Taking the Home Office to court
Cruelty Free International has launched legal proceedings against the Home Office decision. They have now been given the green light by a judge to take their case to a full hearing in court.

This is our last chance to fight for the Yorkshire beagles and CFI are urgently asking for our support.

Please donate today and your gift could help fund the legal costs of challenging the Home Office in the High Court of Justice.

Cruelty Free International has been campaigning for almost five years to stop the expansion of a beagle farm in Yorkshire, England. To donate today and help the fight to protect the Yorkshire beagles in the High Court of Justice, click here.

Article taken from: https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/fighting-yorkshire-beagles-high-court

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UK animal experiment count ‘falls’

The Home Office’s annual statistics show a 6% drop in animal experiments in the UK – but the office has changed the way it collects these figures.

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An EU directive has been adopted that means tests are counted when they conclude, instead of when they begin, making comparisons difficult.

But Home Office staff are “confident” that animal use has, indeed, fallen.

As usual, 50% of the 3.87 million total “procedures” were GM animals, which were created but not used in tests.

That overall figure compares to 4.12 million in 2013. But the Home Office’s chief statistician David Blunt emphasised that there was a “discontinuity” between those two figures.

“This means that any comparisons made between 2014 and earlier should be made with caution,” Mr Blunt told journalists at a briefing on Thursday.

“The 6% fall is what the data’s got, but maybe it’s not quite as big as that. But I’m still confident that there’s a fall; it may be 3 or 4% or something like that.”

Lord Bates, a Home Office minister, said he was “encouraged” to see the number of procedures apparently falling.

“Today’s figures indicate the science community continues to respond to the government’s firm commitment to adopting measures to replace, reduce and refine animal use,” he declared in a written statement.

But the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) condemned the number of “severe” animal experiments taking place.

Jan Creamer, president of NAVS, said: “The level of suffering animals are experiencing in Britain’s laboratories is shameful.”

She added: “There is an urgent need for greater transparency and accountability in animal research, so these extreme tests can be reviewed and replaced with advanced non-animal methods.”

The Home Office sees its collection of “severity” data as a big step forward in terms of transparency. This is the first set of statistics to categorise animal usage into “sub-threshold” (28% in 2014), “non-recovery” (3%), “mild” (49%), “moderate” (14%) and “severe” (5%).

“We wanted to see how best we could inform the public of what goes on, so that there’s a clear understanding of what’s involved in the process of experimentation,” said Prof Dominic Wells, from the Royal Veterinary College, who was part of the working group which drew up this classification.
“Each individual animal is assessed as to the worst pain, suffering or distress that happened. That can be either the single worst event, or a cumulative series of events that on their own are not particularly substantial, but when added together increase the severity.”

Animal rights group Peta was unconvinced, describing the severity system as “absurd” and accusing experimenters and regulators of “a complete lack of compassion”.

Also on Thursday, the Home Office confirmed that a new ban on animal testing of household products, announced in March, will come into effect on 1 November.

This policy forbids any testing of “finished” household products – a practice that has already largely ended in the UK – and places restrictions on testing of individual ingredients. Such tests, in the latest 2014 statistics, affected 138 animals.

Peta said the ban was “a baby step in the right direction”.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34602962

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Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee backs a new report which describes animal experiments as morally ‘unthinkable’

More than a hundred and fifty academics, intellectuals, and writers, including Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee, have backed a new report calling for the de-normalisation of animal experimentation.  Titled ‘Normalising the Unthinkable’, the report is the result of a working party of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

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Other signatories to the report include the Rt Revd John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, Professor Keith Ward of Oxford University, Professor Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School, and Professor Conor Gearty of the London School of Economics.

The report finds that ‘The deliberate and routine abuse of innocent, sentient animals involving harm, pain, suffering, stressful confinement, manipulation, trade, and death should be unthinkable. Yet animal experimentation is just that: the ‘normalisation of the unthinkable’.  ‘It is estimated that 115.3 million animals are used in experiments worldwide per annum. In terms of harm, pain, suffering, and death, this constitutes one of the major moral issues of our time.’

Comprised of 20 leading ethicists and scientists, the working party concluded that animal experiments are both morally and scientifically flawed. The report of more than 50,000 words is probably the most comprehensive critique of animal experiments ever published.

Commissioned by the BUAV and Cruelty Free International as an independent ethical review, members of the working party are keen to point out that the BUAV in no way influenced its conclusions.

‘The moral arguments in favour of animal testing really don’t hold water’ says Professor Andrew Linzey, co-editor of the report and a theologian at Oxford University.  ‘We have looked at the central arguments in official reports and found them wanting.  If any of them were morally valid, they would also justify experiments on human beings.’

The report concludes that the ‘normalisation’ of animal experiments:

  • flies in the face of what is now known about the extent and range of how animals can be harmed. The issue of the complexity of animal awareness, especially animal sentience (the capacity to experience pain and pleasure), cannot be ignored. Unlike our forebears, we now know, as reasonably as we can know of humans, that animals (notably, mammals, birds, and reptiles) experience not only pain, but also shock, fear, foreboding, trauma, anxiety, stress, distress, anticipation, and terror.
  • is based on the discredited idea that animals are just tools for human use, means to human ends, fungible items, and commodities who can be treated and dispensed with as humans think fit.
  • is challenged by new moral thinking which holds that sentient beings are not just things, objects, machines, or tools, but have value in themselves and deserve respect.
  • is augmented by a range of regulations and controls, which in reality do very little to protect animals and indeed often do the reverse.
  • is justified by the oft-repeated assertion that human interest requires such experiments, whereas it has to be questioned whether humans are ever benefited by the abuse of animals.

BUAV and Cruelty Free International CEO, Michelle Thew, said: We greatly welcome this new report, which should spur on new ethical thinking about animals and question some of the lazy assumptions about how animal research benefits humans. This independent report is a milestone in ethical thinking about animals and puts the ethics of animal research back on the agenda.’

Academics are invited to debate the report at a special Summer School on the Ethics of Using Animals in Research at Oxford on 26-29 July 2015.

[Editor’s note:] In 2012, over 200,000 animals were killed in experiments by Oxford University.

Article taken from: http://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/en/a/Nobel-laureate-JM-Coetzee-backs-a-new-report-which-describes-animal-experiments-as-morally-unthinkable

 

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Ban will end testing of household products on animals

Testing of household products on animals will be banned, Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone has announced.

The ban is the result of a commitment made by the coalition government in 2010 to end such testing and forms part of ongoing work to safeguard animal welfare and advance the use of the 3Rs (replacement, refinement and reduction) in research and development.

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Today’s announcement follows extensive consultation and includes a new definition of what is meant by household products and their ingredients.

Ban comes into force in October

The ban, scheduled to come into effect in October, will cover all finished products – including detergents, polishes and cleaning products, laundry products, air fresheners, deodorants, paints and other decorating materials.

It will also apply to any chemical, when more than half of it is expected to be used as an ingredient in household products. Testing of such ingredients on animals will be banned unless there is a legal requirement or an exceptional justification can be made in advance.

Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone said:

The UK has one of the most comprehensive animal welfare systems in the world to ensure animal testing is carried out humanely and only when necessary.

The ban on the testing of household products and ingredients on animals demonstrates our continuing commitment to safeguard animal welfare and advance the use of the 3Rs principles in research and development.

It will also help to ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global work to find and use alternatives to animal testing.

In order to minimise the regulatory burden on industry, the ban will be implemented through amendments to conditions on project licences issued under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

To ensure smooth implementation of the ban, the Government are working with the research and development industry to develop a new guidance, notification and application system.

Government reforms on animal testing

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of reforms introduced by this government to enhance openness and transparency about the use of animals in scientific research, with the aim of improving public understanding of this work.

Last February, the Home Office, along with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health, launched a delivery plan to support work to reduce the use of animals in research.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-will-end-testing-of-household-products-on-animals

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Concern over animal testing levels as Edinburgh Uni tops UK table for number of creatures used in its laboratories

Edinburgh University is top of a table of animal testing laboratories in Britain, a new study has found.

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The Scots institution used a staggering 241,865 creatures to experiment on in just one year of testing.

New figures, obtained under freedom of information, show a quarter of the animals used in scientific research in the UK in 2013 were tested in the laboratories of just six universities.

Between them, the six conducted experiments on just over a million animals that year, according to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).

Some of the animals – which included monkeys, sheep and rabbits as well as rats, mice and fish – were subjected to “distressing and disturbing” procedures, it was claimed.

The University of Edinburgh was followed by Oxford University (190,169), University College London (181,295), Cambridge University (169,353), King’s College London (132,885) and Imperial College London (130,358).

In 2013, 4,017,758 animals were used in 4,121,582 experiments in the UK, Home Office statistics show.

Of these animals, 1.8 million were tested in university laboratories, according to the BUAV. The six named universities alone accounted for 1,045,925.

Dr Katy Taylor, head of science at the BUAV, said: “Shockingly, universities account for half of the total number of animals used in experiments carried out in the UK and are responsible for some particularly distressing and disturbing experiments.

“Yet, despite growing concern regarding animal research, much of it is publicly funded. It is ironic that many universities are also leaders in the research to find alternatives to using animals.

“So while one department may be developing cutting edge alternatives, another may be breeding animals to be used in experiments.”

The experiments highlighted by the BUAV involved animals being brain damaged, injected with chemicals that cause severe disabilities, and forced to perform repetitive computer tasks.

In one anxiety experiment at Cambridge University, marmoset monkeys were said to have been blasted with loud noise and frightened with rubber snakes resembling cobras.

Other alleged procedures included subjecting young month-old rats to repeated electric shock (Edinburgh) and creating a glass “window” in the skulls of mice before damaging their brains with a laser (Imperial College).

The BUAV approached 71 universities under the Freedom of Information Act last year and asked how many animals they had used in scientific procedures in the previous 12 months.

Details about the species used and the reasons for the testing were also requested. A total of 67 universities confirmed that they did use animals in experiments and all but three of these – Manchester, Sussex and Bristol – gave the numbers.

The BUAV estimates that 43 per cent of the UK’s 156 registered universities conduct animal research.

A Cambridge University spokesman said: “We are proud of our research, which meets the highest standards of animal welfare and is scrutinised by our Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board – who strive to reduce the number of animals used.

Number of creatures experimented on in just one year:

  1. 241,865 – University of Edinburgh
  2. 190,169 – Oxford University
  3. 181,295 – University College London
  4. 169,353 – Cambridge University
  5. 132,885 – King’s College London
  6. 130,358 – Imperial College London

“Our scientists are actively looking at new techniques to replace the use of animals in research. But without the use of animals, we would not have many of the modern medicines, antibiotics, vaccines and surgical techniques that we take for granted in both human and veterinary medicine.

“Some of the important and pioneering work carried out in Cambridge that has led to major improvements in people’s lives was only possible with the use of animals – from the development of IVF techniques through to new drugs for multiple sclerosis and cancer.”

A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh said: “Research using animals has played and continues to play a key role in the advancement of medical, biological and veterinary science. It has made a vital contribution towards the understanding, prevention, treatment and cure of a wide range of major health problems, including cancer, heart disease and psychiatric disorders.

“The University of Edinburgh uses animals in research programmes only when their use is justified on scientific, ethical and legal grounds, and when no alternatives are available. All such work is strictly regulated and carried out under licences, which are reviewed and approved by the Home Office and are issued only if the potential benefits of the work are likely to outweigh the effects on the animals concerned.

“The university is actively involved in the development of alternative approaches that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research.”

A King’s College London spokesman said: “King’s College London is one of the largest health research institutions in the UK, carrying out cutting-edge medical and biomedical research across many disciplines.

“Our work with animals forms part of the basis for major research breakthroughs in health and medicine, and represents a fundamental step in the search for new treatments for patients with a range of diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurological conditions.

“Animal research at King’s is ethically reviewed and we only use animal models where there is no other viable alternative. We are dedicated to high standards of animal welfare at King’s and all of our animals are cared for in accordance with strict Home Office regulations.

“Around 127,000 people in the UK are thought to live with Parkinson’s disease. L-Dopa is the main drug used by Parkinson’s sufferers to improve their mobility and symptoms, but can have severe side effects such as involuntary body movements and muscle spasms.

“Research with marmosets has helped us to better understand and manage these complications by lowering the dosage and combining L-Dopa with drugs that prolong the duration of its effect. Non-human primates, including the marmoset, are the only species that show quantifiable symptoms that mimic the human conditions associated with Parkinson’s disease.”

A spokeswoman for University College London said: “UCL is formally committed to a policy of openness about animal research and is a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK. All figures quoted in the BUAV release are freely available on our dedicated Animal Research website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/animal-research/facts-figures.

“UCL is a large institution with over 5,000 staff in the School of Life and Medical Sciences alone. We have a high research output, with new scientific results being published every day as we strive to increase our knowledge of human and animal health. To achieve valid results, some research projects require the use of animals.

“Our non-human primate (NHP) research is of the highest quality, regulated by the strict provisions of the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and carried out by a highly skilled, responsible and caring team of researchers and animal technologists, with specialist veterinarian support and scrutiny. Non-human primate work is only conducted when there are no alternatives available.

“UCL is particularly strong in neuroscience with a substantial international reputation. The capacity to carry out research on NHPs is essential for developing an understanding of complex brain mechanisms at the level most relevant to man for which no other valid model exists. NHPs represent the best available animal model for human function and are particularly important for research into neurological and psychiatric diseases, diseases which now affect over one billion people worldwide.”

Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of the organisation Understanding Animal Research, said: “The universities named here all rank as the best research universities in the UK, so it is hardly surprising that they carry out the most animal research. We have these universities to thank for numerous medical breakthroughs over the years, from Penicillin to IVF to cancer drugs.

“The Home Office publishes statistics on animal research every year and the 2013 report (published July 2014) clearly states that 49% of that year’s procedures using animals took place in universities (p.22 and Table 19). Several of the universities mentioned already openly publish the number and species of animals they use on their websites.

“The BUAV is correct in saying that UK universities are always looking for ways to replace, refine and reduce the use of animals in research, but that work regularly happens in the same departments that carry out the research. The BUAV may want people to think that there is ‘growing concern’ about the use of animals in research but the latest Ipsos MORI opinion polling showed that 68% of the British public accepts the use of animals to develop medicines for humans and animals.”

Frances Rawle, from the Medical Research Council, said: “These universities all receive Medical Research Council funding for their work because we believe the high quality research they do is important and may bring about real benefit to patients in the future. Universities are where most research takes place so it hardly seems surprising that this is where nearly half of animal research takes place. The MRC and all the universities mentioned are looking at ways to reduce, replace or refine animal research but it is still an extremely necessary part of medical research if we are to continue to find new treatments.”

An Oxford University spokesman said: “Oxford University’s medical research is devoted to identifying the causes of diseases, improving diagnosis and prevention and developing effective treatments and cures. Research involving animals remains essential to medical advances which are saving the lives and relieving the suffering of millions of people.

“Oxford is a pioneer in developing alternative research techniques which do not involve animals and the University only uses animals for specific and crucial elements of research which cannot be conducted in any other way.

“All such research is closely monitored and carried out according to the highest standards and conditions as set down by the licensing authority, the Home Office. Only a fractional proportion of the University’s biomedical research involves primates. In 2013, 45 primates were used in scientific studies, 0.02% of the total for all animals.

“Oxford’s contribution to this 2014 study involved further analysis of data from earlier research, conducted under licence and published in 2009. We conducted no new animal tests for the 2014 study, which accords with our principle of reducing the number of animals involved in research as far as possible.

“The study is significant as it shows different regions within the primate prefrontal cortex make distinctly different contributions to cognition. Understanding how different brain areas contribute to cognition helps advance our understanding of neurological dysfunction in humans, for example, after a stroke.”

A spokesman for Imperial College London: “Imperial College London believes that the use of animals in research is vital to improve human and animal health and welfare.

“Our robust ethical review procedures ensure that animals are only used in research programmes where their use is shown to be necessary for developing new treatments and making medical advances, and no alternatives exist.

“Imperial is committed to ensuring that, in cases where this research is deemed essential, all animals in the College’s care are treated with full respect, and that all staff involved with this work show due care and consideration at every level.

“As an integral part of any animal research study, Imperial scientists always consider alternatives to animal research, methods to reduce the number of animals involved, and ways to improve their methods to decrease animal suffering.”

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MPs urged to remember their pledge on animal testing

An Early Day Motion has been tabled in Parliament, reminding the coalition government of their pledge to end the use of animal experiments to test household product ingredients.

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Lodged by Graeme Morrice and sponsored by David Amess, Adrian Sanders, Naomi Long, Caroline Lucas and Jim Sheridan, the Motion notes that the former Home Office Minister stated these commitments would take effect before the General Election. The election is fast approaching and so far no steps have been made in this direction.

“We will end the testing of household products on animals and work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.” – The Coalition: our programme for government (May 2010)

 

Hopefully this EDM will remind ministers of the promise they made to those who voted for them in good faith that they would stick to their commitments. It’s unfortunate such reminders are required with only four months to go, but hopefully this will urge them to proceed in the right direction for animals at the earliest opportunity.

The tabled EDM can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/636

If you’d like any other information about this important issue, the associated MPs can be contacted here.

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