Every year the Home Office publishes figures on the use of animals in scientific procedures in the UK. This year, it has changed its methods to record the maximum severity of the procedures every animal has experienced in its lifetime. This way of counting will produce a much more accurate picture of animal research in the UK. But what exactly is a procedure? And what’s the difference between a mild procedure and a severe one? Here Dr Sara Wells, Director of the MRC Mary Lyon Centre, explains.
Let’s start with the basics. Why exactly does the Home Office publish numbers every year?
Animal research in the UK is regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. This requires that every year the Home Office publishes information about protected animals used in scientific research.
To carry out research with these animals, researchers must apply for a project licence from the Home Office, and every licence-holder must then complete ‘annual returns’ about the animals used. All these returns are consolidated and form the report published today.
Yes. This means any living vertebrate other than man and any living cephalopod (eg octopus, cuttlefish, squid).
The use of other animals in research, such as fruitflies or nematode worms, is not subject to the same kind of scrutiny. Read more