Oxford University is one of 10 accounted for half of all animal tests in the UK

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Data from the Home Office also shows that the number of scientific testing procedures conducted on living animals increased by 6 per cent last year.
Data from the Home Office also shows that the number of scientific testing procedures conducted on living animals increased by 6 per cent last year.

THE University of Oxford is one of 10 organisations that accounted for nearly half of all animal research in Britain, new data shows.

In the last year, ten organisations accounted for 49 per cent of all animal testing in Britain.

They were the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, UCL, the Francis Crick Institute, University of Edinburgh, the Medical Research Council, King’s College London, University of Glasgow, University of Manchester and Imperial College London.

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Data from the Home Office also shows that the number of scientific testing procedures conducted on living animals increased by 6 per cent last year.

Across Great Britain some 3.06 million tests were carried out on animals in 2021, up from 2.88 million in 2020 – the lowest since 2004.

Data from the Home Office shows that experimental procedures (1.73 million) increased by 20 per cent and made up 57 per cent of all procedures last year.

Procedures for creation and breeding fell by 8 per cent. According to the data for England, Scotland and Wales, 96 per cent of procedures (both for experimental and breeding purposes) used mice, fish or rats.

These species have been the most used for more than a decade.

According to the data, around half of experimental procedures were for basic research.

The top three research areas were the nervous system, the immune system and cancer (oncology).

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Nic Wells, professor in translational medicine, Royal Veterinary College, and chairman of the Animals Sciences Group, Royal Society of Biology, said: “The increase in the number of animal procedures is not unexpected as the figure was particularly low in 2020 (a drop of 15 per cent on the numbers for 2019), most likely due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There has also been a rise in the number of experimental procedures compared to the number of procedures involving the breeding of genetically altered animals, particularly in the area of applied research, which may reflect a change in research priorities following the Covid pandemic.”

Understanding Animal Research (UAR), an organisation which promotes open communications on the issue, said animal testing is a small but important part of the research into new medicines, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals.

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Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of UAR, which developed the Concordat on Openness, said: “Animal research remains a small but vital part of the quest for new medicines, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals.

“We know that the majority of the British public accepts that animals are needed for this research, but it is important that organisations that use animals in research maintain the public’s trust in them.”

Professor Sir Colin Blakemore, who died on Monday (June 27), was one of the leading scientists at the University of Oxford with his tests on animals followed by a decades long hate campaign by animal rights activists, which saw him face death threats, letter bombs and HIV needles in the post.

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