Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the use of animals in scientific research and to raise concerns about ensuring that the requirement to use non-animal methods is properly enforced. Unfortunately as a shadow minister I am unable to add my name to EDM 175, but I am happy to set out my thoughts below.
I have long believed the UK should lead the world with high animal welfare standards, where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation, and that it is not a binary choice between animal and human welfare. I am therefore proud the UK banned cosmetics testing on animals in 1997 and extended this to cosmetic ingredients in 1998.
It is welcome that animal testing practices have improved and advanced greatly over recent years and non-animal methods for research have also developed and improved over time. However, I remain concerned at the lack of transparency around animal testing project licence applications, as well as the continued permissibility of ‘severe’ suffering as defined in UK law.
I believe we should consider a comprehensive review of animal testing, with a view to improving practice, limiting animal suffering and increasing transparency, with a long-term objective to phase out animal testing entirely.
I further think we should look at ending the permittance of ‘severe’ suffering as defined in UK legislation within an achievable timeframe, as well as contributing to the development and validation of non-animal research methods and technologies and the encouragement of research in the field.
The UK Government believes animal testing currently remains a vital tool in improving understanding of how biological systems work both in health and disease and in the development of new medicines, treatments and technologies.
However, it says it is committed to maintaining a rigorous regulatory system which ensures that animal research is carried out only where no practicable alternative exists and under controls which keep suffering to a minimum, and to the replacement, reduction, and refinement of the use of animals in research, known as the 3Rs.
I believe as times and views change, so must our behaviour. We should work together to eliminate animal testing and stop pain for animals during such procedures. I remain concerned that the Government may fail to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of animals.