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RSPCA demands greater action to reduce the use and suffering of lab animals

More than 100 million animals are used around the world each year in research and testing.

Today, Sunday 24 April marks World Day for Laboratory Animals and the RSPCA is highlighting the need for much more action to reduce the impact of science on animals.

Each year in the UK around 4 million animals are used in scientific research. This represents an enormous number of individuals, all capable of suffering – 100 times the 40,000 people who will run in Sunday’s London Marathon.

The number rises to approximately 11.5 million animals across the European Union and more than 100 million animals worldwide.

The RSPCA believes that much more should be done to reduce lab animal use and suffering and is today calling on the scientific community to take five essential actions:
● More efforts to replace (or avoid) animal experiments, including much faster assessment, acceptance and use of humane alternatives.
● More critical scrutiny of the value of animal ‘models’ and tests, especially by the bodies that fund animal research.
● Immediate actions to stop poorly designed and reported animal experiments from being carried out and published.
● No more claims that animals are used and cared for according to ‘best practice’ unless labs can supply proof that they really are doing this – as opposed to complying with the minimum standards required by law.
● Far greater honesty and openness about the harms experienced by animals used in research, and the limitations of animal experiments, instead of simply highlighting the benefits.

Dr Penny Hawkins, Head of the RSPCA’s Research Animals team, said: “Replacing animal experiments, reducing suffering and improving animal welfare are all essential in a humane society that also wants to benefit from good science. The days when the scientific community could get away with paying lip service to concerns about animal use are over. Many scientists, animal technologists and vets are stepping up and working together to address serious ongoing problems with animal research, but this varies greatly and it is time for everyone to commit to reducing animal use and suffering.”

Penny continues: “New biotechnologies, such as 3D printing techniques to create artificial bones and blood vessels, and the ability to directly ‘edit’ genes, are generating new animal experiments at a pace that can vastly outstrip the public debate on what is acceptable, and for what purpose. The RSPCA would like to see much more progress with technologies such as ‘organ-on-a-chip’, which can use biotechnology to replace animal experiments – this has to be the goal for the 21st century.”

Yesterday, as reported on SalfordOnline.com, demonstrators in Manchester marched from Piccadilly Gardens to Manchester University’s Stopford Building in protest at the animal experiments carried out there.

Organiser Dominika Piasecka, 21, from Salford has sent SalfordOnline the following report on the events of the day:
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Militant animal rights activists got out of control as they banged on windows and wrote ‘scum’ and ‘evil’ across the walls of Stopford Building in Manchester today (Saturday).

The activists were part of the march for World Day for Animals in Laboratories, which culminated outside Stopford Building which had been closed for the weekend because of the demonstration.

The 300-strong march, organised by campaign group Manchester Animal Action, stopped at Stopford Building for speeches, a one-minute silence and to lie white flowers commemorating animal lives lost in experiments.
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But within minutes, some activists began chalking ‘scum’ and ‘evil’ on the building’s windows as well as banging on them, prompting the police to stand in front of the doors as they attempted to open them.

World Day for Animals in Laboratories aims to raise awareness of unethical and unscientific animal experiments, and this year it focused on testing carried out at Stopford Building at Manchester University.

Attendees traveled to Manchester in self-organised mini buses from all around the country, including London, Brighton, Birmingham, Newcastle and Cambridge.

They carried posters with an image of a ferret that said “Are you OK that animals are tortured in useless experiments in this city? I am not!” and chanted “Close down the animal labs” and “There’s no excuse for animal abuse”.

The event also saw walk-in protests at the British Heart Foundation store in Salford and Cancer Research UK shop in Deansgate.

Dozens of activists stormed the charity shops with posters, gave a speech against animal testing and chanted “It’s not science – it’s violence”.

Dominika Piasecka said: “We had a brilliant turnout of people from all over the UK at this year’s World Day for Animals in Laboratories.
“It was wonderful to see hundreds beautiful activists coming together in the sunny Manchester and being a voice for the voiceless.
“We made sure our presence was known outside Stopford Building, where innocent animals lose their lives in flawed experiments.
“The atmosphere was amazing in Manchester, especially with the Northern Vegan Festival taking place in the city centre on the same day.
“Everyone had so much passion and Manchester Animal Action was honoured to see all the incredible animal rights activists come to the city we love.”

Photos courtesy of Manchester Animal Action

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com