The number of scientific experiments and procedures involving laboratory animals rose to just over 3.7 million last year, an increase of 3 per cent on 2009, government officials announced yesterday.
The majority of the increase was due to the continued rise in the number of genetically modified (GM) mice, used mainly in medical research as "models" of human diseases. The majority of these animals do not suffer from the genetic engineering they have experienced, scientists said.
Animal experiments have been increasing for more than 15 years due to the rise in GM technology where laboratory mice can be engineered. There has also been a significant increase in the use of tropical zebra fish for embryonic studies and new world monkeys, used in pharmaceuticals research.
There were about one million more procedures last year than in 2000, a 37 per cent increase. This was mostly due to the breeding of GM animals. There was a decrease in the use of "sensitive" species such as cats, dogs and horses.