Challenge on animal tests

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The Independent Online
Labour today demanded details about the type of animal experiments performed by the Ministry of Defence after figures showed that it increased the number of tests by more than half in 1993.

The Shadow defence spokes man, Derek Fatchett, said ministerial answers he had obtained show-ed the total number of animal tests in Britain had dropped from 3.24 million to 2.92 million - a 10 per cent fall.

But the number of experiments carried out by the MoD rose from 4,500 in 1992 to 6,796 in 1993 - a 51 per cent increase.

The MoD uses a range of animals, including animals, to help assess, for example, the harm of chemical and biological agents and to investigate the effects of gravity.

Mr Fatchett said: "Some testing has to take place to ensure the safety of our armed forces, but I am concerned that the MoD is going against the trend in increasing the number of experiments."

He said he has asked to meet the Secretary of State for Defence, Malcolm Rifkind, to discuss the MoD's policy.

Mr Fatchett released a letter in which MoD Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment director general Graham Pearson said animal experiments were carried out "only when careful consideration of alternatives has shown there is no adequate substitute".

Mr Pearson's letter also said that there was "absolutely no use" of animals to develop chemical or biological weapons.