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Animal Experiment Statistics

Published Thursday, April 12, 2018

In 2014 3.8 million procedures were completed on regulated living animals representing a decrease of 6% compared to 2013. This note summarises and analyses trends in data, including the growth of universities as the dominant seat of research on animals, the decline of research for toxicological purposes, and the growth in animal procedures for cancer research.

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In 2016, 3.94 million procedures were completed involving regulated living animals. Of those, roughly half (2.0 million) were experimental procedures and 49% (1.9 million) related to the creation/breeding of genetically altered (GA) animals.

This briefing paper analyses trends in scientific procedures that are subject to the provisions of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. Under this Act, any scientific procedure carried out on a living vertebrate animal or cephalopod (Octopus vulgaris), which is likely to cause that animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm, is a regulated procedure requiring a licence.

Over the last ten years for which data are publicly available (2007-2016), the total number of procedures increased by 23%. This continues a trend of yearly rises since the modern-day low of 2.66 million animals in 1998. The creation/breeding of genetically altered (GA) animals primarily accounts for this rise, while the number of experimental procedures being performed has been fairly constant.

Mice were the most commonly used animal, appearing in 60% of experimental procedures and in 84% of creation and breeding procedures. After mice, the most prevalent animals used were fish, rats, and birds.

This briefing paper summarises the data on the type of procedures being performed, the establishments involved, the origin of animals being used, and the purpose of research. Previous time periods are included, where possible, to identify trends.

The data used are primarily from the Home Office’s annual release Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain 2016. They relate to procedures taking place in Great Britain. Following reclassifications resulting from the introduction of the 1986 Act, many historical figures date back to 1988.

Data for EU countries is also summarised and compared with that of the UK.

Commons Briefing papers SN02720

Author: Georgina Sturge

Topics: Animal diseases, Animal experiments, Animal welfare, Animals, Genetics, Science

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