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UK Government response to our Target Zero petition disappointing

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Let’s get to 100,000 signatures so decision-makers must listen

The UK Government has published its initial response to our Target Zero petition calling for an ambitious phase-out of animal experiments

Sadly, the response once again is disappointing and reveals a continued lack of ambition and commitment to change on behalf of ministers.

If you have already signed the petition, thank you! If you opted to receive more information, you will also have been sent the Government’s response. Together with our partners Animal Free Research UK and OneKind, we have prepared our answer to the points made in the official response and will be sending this to MPs. 

Here are some of the key points:

  • What they say: the Government funds and supports the development of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (3Rs). This is primarily delivered by the National Centre for the 3Rs.
  • What we say: the £100m allocated to the NC3Rs covers a period of 16 years since 2004 and only a proportion of that funding has gone towards the replacement of animal testing. Approximately 36% has been spent on other work such as reduction and refinement. Not only is this figure dwarfed by the amounts spent on animal experiments, but we also believe that much more focus should be on the full replacement of animals in testing with new cutting-edge methods that have a much greater relevance to people.
  • What they say: Under UK law no animal testing may be conducted if there is a non- animal alternative available and such testing is strictly limited to that necessary to achieve the scientific benefits.
  • What we say: in practice, we don’t believe this legal requirement is adequately enforced. The Home Office publishes non-technical summaries of licences that have been granted for animal experiments which include a question about an applicant’s strategy for searching for non-animal methods.   The inadequate responses in these summaries would suggest that this important question is not being treated with sufficient gravity.  We also know that there are some cases where animal tests are licensed despite the existence of animal-free methods. In 2020, for example, 452 skin sensitisation tests were carried out on mice, even though validated non-animal tests are available.  The Government continues to license batch potency tests on tens of thousands of mice for botulinum products despite the availability of a non-animal method AND the fact that most of these products are used for cosmetic purposes.

Our Director of Public Affairs, Kerry Postlewhite said: “We have seen the same response from government time and again. It’s beyond time for a rethink and a commitment to a pro-active strategy to bring the outdated practice of animal experiments to an end once and for all in the UK.”

Please join the over 55,000 amazing people who have signed so far and join and share our Target Zero petition to help us secure a parliamentary debate and make our decision-makers listen.