UK: Government Responses To 2 Petitions – ‘Change the law to include laboratory animals in the Animal Welfare Act’. And ‘End the Cage Age for all farmed animals’.

 

Petition 1 –  63,755 signatures

 Petition Wording:

Change the law to include laboratory animals in the Animal Welfare Act.

The Government needs to change the law so laboratory animals are included in the Animal Welfare Act. Laboratory animals are currently not protected by the Act and are therefore victims of ‘unnecessary suffering’ (see section 4 of the Act: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/section/4).

A recent exposé showed harrowing footage of the factory farming of laboratory dogs in the UK. Experiments on such dogs, and other animals, are today widely reported to be entirely failing the search for human treatments and cures.

Current science from multiple fields proves that animal-based research and testing is not viable. The Government should therefore change the law to include laboratory animals under the protection of the Animal Welfare Act, to prevent their unnecessary suffering.

Government responded:

The Government believes animal use for research remains important and The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) provides specific protection for these animals..

There is an explicit exclusion under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA), to provide for the legitimate conduct of procedures on ‘protected animals’ for scientific or educational purposes that may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. The use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work both in health and disease. Such use is crucial for the development of new medicines and cutting-edge medical technologies for both humans and animals, and for the protection of our environment.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) is the specific piece of legislation which provides protection for these animals:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consolidated-version-of-aspa-1986

No animals may be used under ASPA if there is a validated non-animal alternative that would achieve the scientific outcomes sought. The protections for animals under ASPA include the need for three levels of licence for such procedures to occur, welfare standards which need to be met, and activities including inspection which assure compliance with ASPA. The Home Office is the department responsible for regulating the use of animals under ASPA. If any activity is found to be in breach of what is permitted under ASPA, then the AWA will apply.

Details of how these regulations are administered and operationalised are set out in the Guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-the-operation-of-the-animals-scientific-procedures-act-1986.

Details of the code of practice for housing and accommodation of animals regulated under ASPA approved by Parliament which form a core pillar of compliance assurance activities under ASPA are available at:
Code of practice for the housing and care of animals bred, supplied or used for scientific purposes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Animal testing is required by all global medicines regulators, including the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to protect human health and safety. Without the testing of potential medicines on animals the development, registration and marketing of new, safe, and effective medicines would not be possible. The animal species for animal testing of potential medicines are specifically chosen to give as much human relevant information as possible and to avoid species specific reactions which would not predict human effects. Many products which would not be safe or effective in humans are detected through animal testing thus avoiding harm to humans. Potential medicines fail in development for many reasons but the fact that medicines are stopped in development for reasons other than unsatisfactory animal testing does not mean that the testing is not essential.

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