The Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2015 indicate that the Home Office were correct in recommending that caution should be exercised when interpreting the 2014 data as an apparent decline in animal experiments. The 2015 report shows that, as the changes to the format of the annual statistics have become more familiar and less problematic, there has been a re-emergence of the upward trend in animal research and testing in Great Britain. The 2015 statistics report an increase in animal procedures (up to 4,142,631) and in the number of animals used (up to 4,069,349). This represents 1% more than the totals in 2013, and a 7% increase on the procedures reported in 2014. This paper details an analysis of these most recent statistics, providing information on overall animal use and highlighting specific issues associated with genetically-altered animals, dogs and primates. It also reflects on areas of the new format that have previously been highlighted as being problematic, and concludes with a discussion about the use of animals in regulatory research and testing, and how there are significant missed opportunities for replacing some of the animal-based tests in this area.
The Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2014 reports a welcome decline in animal experimentation in the UK. However, caution has to be exercised when interpreting these most recent figures, due to the significant changes made to satisfy the requirements of Directive 2010/63/EU as to what information is reported and how it is reported. Comparisons to the figures and trends reported in previous years is difficult, so this paper focuses on the specifics of the current report, providing information on overall animal use and highlighting specific issues associated with genetically-altered animals, fish and primates. There is a detailed discussion of the extent of the changes, commenting on the benefits and disadvantages of the new format, in areas such as severity of procedures, legislation and techniques of special interest. It also considers the consequences of the changes on the effective monitoring of laboratory animal use, the openness and transparency regarding the impacts of animal use, and the implementation of Three Rs initiatives. In addition, suggestions for further improvements to the new format are made to the Home Office.
The 2013 Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals reveal that the level of animal experimentation in Great Britain continues to rise, with 4.12 million procedures being conducted. The figures indicate that this is almost exclusively a result of the breeding and use of genetically-altered (GA) animals (i.e. genetically-modified animals, plus those with harmful genetic defects). The breeding of GA animals increased to over half (51%) of all the procedures, and GA animals were involved in 61% of all the procedures. Indeed, if these animals were removed from the statistics, the number of procedures would actually have declined by 4%. It is argued that the Coalition Government has failed to address this issue, and, as a consequence, will not be able to deliver its pledge to reduce animal use in science. Recent publications supporting the need to reassess the dominance of genetic alteration are also discussed, as well as the need to move away from the use of dogs as the default second species in safety testing. The general trends in the species used, and the numbers and types of procedures, are also reviewed. Finally, forthcoming changes to the statistics are discussed.
Many captive animals show forms of pelage loss that are absent in wild or free-living conspecifics, which result from grooming or plucking behaviours directed at themselves or at other individuals. For instance, dorsal hair loss in primates such as rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in research facilities, results from excessive hair-pulling or over-grooming by cage-mates. This behaviour appears to be associated with stress, and is controllable to some extent with environmental enrichment. Quantifying alopecia in primates (as in many species) is therefore potentially useful for welfare assessment. A simple system for scoring alopecia was developed and its reliability was tested. Study 1 showed high interobserver reliability between two independent scorers in assessing the state of monkeys’ coats from photographs. Study 2 showed that there were no significant differences between the scores derived from photographs and from direct observations. Thus, where hair loss due to hair pulling exists in captive primates, this scoring system provides an easy, rapid, and validated quantitative method, for use in assessing the success of attempts to reduce it via improved husbandry. In the future, such scoring systems might also prove useful for quantifying barbering in laboratory rodents.
It is now more than 20 years since both Council of Europe Convention ETS123 and EU Directive 86/609?EEC were introduced, to promote the implementation of the Three Rs in animal experimentation and to provide guidance on animal housing and care. It might therefore be expected that reports of the implementation of the Three Rs in animal research papers would have increased during this period. In order to test this hypothesis, a literature survey of animal-based research was conducted. A randomly- selected sample from 16 high-profile medical journals, of original research papers arising from European institutions that featured experiments which involved either mice or primates, were identified for the years 1986 and 2006 (Total sample = 250 papers). Each paper was scored out of 10 for the incidence of reporting on the implementation of Three Rs-related factors corresponding to Replacement (justification of non-use of non-animal methods), Reduction (statistical analysis of the number of animals needed) and Refinement (housing aspects, i.e. increased cage size, social housing, enrichment of cage environment and food; and procedural aspects, i.e. the use of anaesthesia, analgesia, humane endpoints, and training for procedures with positive reinforcement). There was no significant increase in overall reporting score over time, for either mouse or primate research. This review provides systematic evidence that animal research is still not properly reported, and supports the call within the scientific community for action to be taken
by journals to update their policies.
The latest report on experimental animal use in the EU indicates a slight decrease. However, the figures, which are for 2008, show that around 12-million animals are still used in laboratories throughout Europe. To date, only a summary of the data has been published, and so this report is limited to giving a comparison of trends and significant changes. The impact on the figures of the revision of Directive 86/609 and the 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC is discussed. In addition, consideration is given to which areas of research and regulation will need to be closely monitored, and the importance of continuing to push for the implementation of Three Rs initiatives is highlighted.
The 2010 Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals showed that the level of animal experimentation in Great Britain continues to rise, with just over 3.7 million procedures being conducted. This is almost exclusively due to the sustained increase in the breeding and utilisation of genetically-altered animals. Here, the general trends in the species used and the numbers and types of procedures are reviewed. In addition, the impact of the recent Government announcement to ban testing of household products on animals is discussed, along with the implications of the fish becoming the second mostfrequently used animal in scientific research. Finally, concerns about primate use, the REACH System, cosmetics testing and the new EU Directive on the protection of laboratory animals are explained.