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Fellow Warns of Threats to Minimum Standards for Animals in Research

1st November 2010

In the wake of the recently released statistics of scientific procedures in the U.K. published by the Home Office (see here), Centre Fellow and veterinarian, Dr Andrew Knight, argues that future developments could weaken minimum standards for animals in laboratories. He analyses the animal welfare implications of the latest U.K. figures, and considers the likely adverse welfare impacts of the new the European Directive governing laboratory animal use, and of U.K. budgetary cuts.

Writing in the current edition of Veterinary Practice magazine, he warns that

European Member States will have 24 months to adopt and publish national legislation which will transpose the provisions of this Directive. The latter will become effective on 1st January, 2013. However, the Directive is weaker in some respects than existing U.K. legislation, so to safeguard the welfare of laboratory animals in the U.K. it will be important to ensure the latter is not watered down to meet “bare minimum” European requirements.

The article concludes that

Additionally, the Comprehensive Spending Review of Science currently being undertaken by the coalition government is expected to reduce the amount of funding available, which could adversely affect the ongoing development of alternative research and testing strategies, as well as the care and welfare of animals used in U.K. laboratories. The welfare of U.K. laboratory animals is, therefore, under threat from several directions.

However, as well as being least able to speak up for themselves, these animals are within the sector of society least responsible for our current economic crisis. To ensure they do not pay a heavier price than those actually responsible for it, the veterinary profession must emphasise to our government the significant importance of good animal welfare to society at large. We must clearly make the point that weakening of U.K. minimum standards for laboratory animals is not an  acceptable option for mitigating our economic woes.

To read the full article, see here.