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expert reaction to Norman Baker’s comments on animal research

BBC News reported that Norman Baker said he wants to see an end to animal testing in the UK.

 

Charles Kernahan, Interim Chief Executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) said:

“Animals are used in medical research only where absolutely necessary in order to find breakthroughs which will relieve suffering and bring hope to literally millions of patients. We are pleased that the Government is bringing forward legislation to increase transparency in this important area of science.

“Scientists developing new treatments use cells grown in a lab, tissue samples, computer models and when appropriate, animals. They also conduct clinical trials with human volunteers. All of these approaches, including those using animals, play an important role in the research process.

“The Government’s own polls show that the majority of the public can accept that research using animals is necessary as long as there are no alternatives and suffering is minimised. UK legislation is some of the most robust in the world to ensure this is the case.”

 

Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive, Understanding Animal Research, said:

“I think we all agree that alternatives should be developed and used wherever possible, and it should be noted that more than 15,000 fewer animals were used in 2013 than 2012. It is already against the law to use an animal for research if there’s an alternative method available.

“We should also be clear that it is illegal to test cosmetics or their ingredients on animals. Experiments are for medical, scientific, veterinary and environmental research, and over half of experiments are the breeding of genetically altered animals, mainly mice. In fact, more than 98% of lab animals are mice, rats, fish and birds.

“It is necessary work, which has given us everything from insulin to the badger TB vaccine, and were we to ban animal research tomorrow it would simply move abroad where standards of lab animal welfare are often not as high.

“We have long argued for increased funding for developing alternatives and reform of Section 24, however a hurdle to the minister’s vision may be that a great deal of research is about discovering how biological systems work in the first place. We cannot model what we don’t yet understand.”

 

Declared interests

None declared

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