Support for animal experiments at lowest level since 2002
We believe the results of two new polls commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills should stimulate more determined efforts to end animal use and suffering in experiments.
The surveys (published today, 4 September) were carried out in March by Ipsos Mori. They show a continuing overall decline in public support for animal experiments – now at the lowest level since 2002.
Close to a third (32 per cent) of people in the UK state that they do not support the use of animals in any experimentation because of the importance they place on animal welfare.
Although around 68 per cent say they can agree with some use of animals in experiments, this comes with three major caveats:
- it should be for the purpose of medical research
- there should be ‘no alternative’
- there should be no unnecessary suffering.
Our chief scientific officer Dr Maggy Jennings OBE said:
“These results reveal the public’s deep-seated and persistent concerns for animals who suffer in the name of science – concerns which are shared by the RSPCA.”
More must be done to reduce animal use and suffering
Given this, it’s unsurprising that the public wants more to be done to reduce animal use.
More than three quarters of people say there should be more research into humane alternatives to animal experiments, and almost half believe that ‘scientists could do more to reduce the suffering of animals that are still used.’ We strongly agree with both of these opinions.
Other opinions revealed in the survey include:
- 61 per cent think there might be unnecessary duplication of research
- only 24 per cent think that in practice ‘scientific research is carried out on animals only where there is no alternative’
- just 16 per cent believe that organisations using animals in the UK for scientific research ‘stick to good animal welfare standards’.
“Lobbyists for the research community argue that everything possible is done to keep animal use and suffering to a minimum, yet in the past decade there has been a massive increase in the numbers of animals used.
There has also been increasing acknowledgment that many experiments are poorly designed and of questionable value, which means that animals have – without doubt – suffered unnecessarily.”
A robust system of regulation
It is particularly noteworthy that 34 per cent of people asked in the survey state that they ‘do not trust the regulatory system around the use of animals in scientific research’, with only 35 per cent believing that ‘the rules in the UK on scientific research involving animals are well enforced.’
“The public is absolutely right to be concerned. They expect strong controls on animal experiments that are robustly enforced. However, in recent years there have been worrying reductions in the number of Home Office Inspectors, who oversee compliance with the law. Their resources are currently stretched to the limit.”
“The Coalition Government made a commitment to reduce the use of animals in research, producing a delivery plan earlier this year. The results of this survey should leave them in no doubt that large sectors of the public – and the RSPCA – will be waiting to hold them to account if the plan fails.”
More about our work for laboratory animals
Using animals in research and testing is a controversial issue. People often disagree as to whether they think animal experiments are necessary, useful or justified, and to what extent non-animal alternatives are available.
We believe that every area of animal use should be judged individually and that replacing the use of animals with humane alternatives must be the principal goal.