Animal tests up to 2.7m a year

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The Government has admitted that the number of animal experiments has increased in spite of the protests which threatened to shut down some of Britain's laboratories.

The Government has admitted that the number of animal experiments has increased in spite of the protests which threatened to shut down some of Britain's laboratories.

The row over animal testing is likely to be inflamed by the disclosure that 2.71 million procedures were performed on animals last year, a rise of 58,000 on the previous year.

Norman Baker, the Lib-Dem MP for Lewes, who opposes animal experiments, said: "Any pretence Labour has about reducing animal experiments has been dashed."

Labour's Tony Banks, another MP campaigning for animal rights, said: "This is 2.7 million too many in my view."

Huntingdon Life Sciences was targetted earlier this year by animal rights activists who tried to close the company down with violent threats to its City backers. The Government made a rescue plan through the Bank of England to prevent the company being forced out of business.

The latest figures given in Parliamentary replies by ministers show that 82 per cent of animal experiments involved the use of rats, mice and other rodents. Fish and birds were used in 14 per cent of the procedures.

About 66 per cent of the procedures were for biological research and applied human or veterinary medicine. A further 17 per cent were for toxicological or safety testing, mostly for pharmaceutical evaluation.

Dogs, cats, horses and primates covered by the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act were used in less than 1 per cent of the procedures, said Lord Rooker, a Home Office minister.

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