Experiments on animals rise again
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Thursday 14 July 2011
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.
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