Letter to the Minister of State about Animal Experiments

Tom Pursglove

Minister of State

Home Office

 26th July 2022

Dear Tom,


I am writing to express my concern about the number of animals subjected to laboratory experiments. The figures recently released by the Home Office show a rise of 6% in the number of animal experiments in 2021, compared with 2020 statistics. These animals, including dogs, mice, chickens, monkeys and rabbits, are sentient beings and therefore fully able to experience pain and distress. According to the latest data, more than three quarters of experiments caused some degree of suffering, whilst just over 3% of experiments involved “severe” suffering.


As you will know, the Home Office licences animals to undergo physical and psychological harm during the testing of consumer products such as toxic pesticide and food additives, as well as on medical grounds. There’s growing concern about experiments being badly designed and carried out too. And their usefulness is questionable, with only 5-10% of development projects that enter clinical trials resulting in new medicine, for example, according to a report by the NC3Rs.


The 3Rs framework (replace, reduce refine) is designed to facilitate moving away from outdated and cruel animal experiments and it has the backing of the British public. 79% want more done to speed up the development of alternatives to the use of animals in scientific research and testing, and 77% think the UK Government should commit to phasing out the use of animals.


The Home Office’s direction of travel, as illustrated by the latest annual statistics, is therefore very clearly out of touch with both current scientific thinking and public opinion. The statistics also demonstrate a serious lack of progress in the transition to using ethical, non-invasive alternatives in experimental research, for example the use of human ‘organs-on-chips’, microchips lined with living human cells. 76% of British adults want the UK to be global leaders when it comes to non-animal technologies (NATs) and new approach methodologies (NAMs) – and to benefit from the associated economic, as well as ethical, scientific and animal welfare opportunities.


I’d therefore like to know what steps your Department is planning to take to phase out animal use in research and testing; whether you are prepared to signal an ambitious and increased commitment to the development, uptake and phasing in of non-animal alternative methods; and whether you share my concern that more than 8000 animal tests were carried out every day in 2021.


I look forward to your response.


Best wishes, Caroline


Public opinion reference

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