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UK Government to increase funding for 3Rs and publish plans to reduce use of animals in science

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Tell your MP how important it is to end animal testing in the UK

We welcome the government’s increase in funding for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, and commitment to create plans to reduce the number of animals used in scientific procedures.

The announcements were made by Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, as part of a debate on two e-petitions relating to animal testing and the development of non-animal methods. The debate in Westminster Hall, was led by Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington and member of the Petitions Committee, with several of the MPs who took part referencing the work and arguments of Cruelty Free International.

Funding for the 3Rs will double to £20 million in financial year 2024-25, through UK Research and Innovation, part of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology which manages research and innovation funding.

Mr Griffith also committed to publishing plans this summer “to accelerate the development, validation and uptake of technologies and methods to reduce the reliance of the use of animals in science”, to increase fees paid by organisations who apply to conduct animal testing, and to review the duration of the licenses issued to those organisations down from the current five-year average.

The ‘Public Attitudes to Animal Research’ survey, which had been temporarily halted by the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, will restart, with results to be published in the autumn.

In response to a point made by several MPs in the debate, Mr Griffith also agreed to consider moving the government responsibility for animal testing from the Home Office to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The two e-petitions debated were 633591, to ‘End the use of animals for toxicity tests & prioritise non-animal methods’, and 645885, 'Ban the use of dogs for testing and research purposes in the UK’. The latter petition was launched by singer Will Young.

The full debate can be watched on ParliamentLive.TV or on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Mr Griffith said: “The number of signatories to the petitions indicates the strength of public feeling on this matter. I completely understand that the use of animals in science, including toxicity testing, is a sensitive issue. More than that, I personally believe that the day can’t come quickly enough when we are able to end the practice of animal testing. To bring that moment forward to us, the UK is one of the world’s leading nations in the development of non-animal methods. The government is keen to ensure that they are utilised wherever possible. But we’re not quite yet at that moment when we can fully replace animal testing.”

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, said: “There is enough evidence now that non-animal methods can be more accurate, cost-effective and quicker than traditional animal models. Researchers are required to use non-animal methods wherever possible (but) concerns have been raised that the process of checking if NAMs have been used is not rigorous enough. Cruelty Free International has previously found cases where animal testing has been used although non-animal alternatives were available. It is therefore disappointing that the government response to these petitions is that there will be no change in the law.”

Patricia Gibson, Scottish National Party MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said: “We know that, overwhelmingly, the public wishes to see an end to animal testing, because it is cruel, causes suffering, and, more importantly, it is unnecessary. A culture change is needed. Recent developments in evolutionary and developmental biology and genetics has significantly increased our understanding of why animals have no predictive value for human responses to drugs, or the pathophysiology of human disease. Cruelty Free International research shows that the UK is in the top 10 users of dogs and monkeys in experiments in the world. We must ban this immoral and unjustifiable practice and pursue alternatives instead.”

Our CEO, Michelle Thew, said: “These commitments are welcome but fall short of the necessary government action required to establish the UK as a global leader in the development of the non-animal testing methods. A greater increase in funding, in line with the levels for similar ground-breaking technologies in the UK, needs to be accompanied by innovative incentives to encourage scientists and industry to move away from the current use of animals. Without taking bold steps forward we will be condemned to a never-ending cycle of small reductions rather than the transformative step forward which is needed to meet the aspirations of the public.”

Show your support for a Cruelty-Free UK by taking our Pledge – and find out how you can ask your MP to help kick animal testing out of our homes.