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Figures show five per cent fall in UK animal experiments
The majority of experimental procedures in 2016 involved mice.

Genetically altered animals account for almost 50 per cent of procedures

Home Office figures show there has been a five per cent decrease in the number of scientific procedures on animals.

According to the annual statistical report 2016, released on Thursday (13 July), the total number of procedures fell from 4.14 million to 3.94 million - a reduction of 206,000 compared with 2015.

Of the total figure, 51 per cent were experimental procedures and 49 per cent related to the creation of genetically altered animals.

Humane Society International/UK has criticised the figures, stating that they expose the government’s failure to curb “out of control” animal breeding.

“We’ve witnessed this trend toward out-of-control breeding of genetically modified animals developing for more than a decade, and have repeatedly called on the Home Office to take action,” said Troy Seidle, HSI senior director for research & toxicology.

“Despite all assurances of the UK government’s commitment to reducing the use of animals in labs, the numbers keep going up, rendering the government’s current strategy a qualified failure.”

Between 2007 and 2016, the total number of procedures increased by 23 per cent. The rise in the breeding of genetically altered animals accounted for this rise.

Of the 2.02 million experimental procedures in 2016, the majority involved mice (60 per cent); fish (14 per cent); rats (12 per cent) and birds (7 per cent). Experimental procedures involving specially protected species (i.e horses, dogs, cats and non-human primates) accounted for 0.9 per cent (18,000) of procedures in 2016.

“The UK has one of the most comprehensive animal welfare systems in the world and we are completely committed to the proper regulation of the use of animals in scientific research,” said a Home Office spokesperson.

“This research helps us to ensure that medicines are safe to use and to find treatments for cancer and other diseases, among a range of other benefits.

“Our legislation provides a rigorous regulatory system that ensures animal research and testing is carried out only where no practicable alternative exists and under controls which keep suffering to an absolute minimum.”

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

News Story 1
 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

News Shorts
Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.