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UK: GM and HM breeding account for more than half of animal use for scientific purposes

In 2013, 4.12 million scientific procedures were started in Great Britain, an increase of 0.3 per cent (+11,600 procedures) compared with 2012. Of these procedures, 2.02 million (49%) were performed for purposes other than to breed genetically modified (GM) animals and animals with a harmful genetic mutation (HM), a decrease of 5 per cent (-111,600 procedures) compared with 2012. The remaining 2.10 million procedures (51%) were undertaken to breed GM and HM animals, an increase of 6 per cent (+123,200 procedures).


Between 1995 and 2013, the number of procedures increased by 52 per cent (+1.41 million). Of these procedures, the number undertaken for purposes other than to breed GM and HM aniĀ­mals decreased by 16 per cent (-379,500 procedures). In contrast, breeding to produce GM and HM animals rose by 573 per cent (+1.79 million procedures). The proportion of procedures accounted for by GM and HM animal breeding rose from 12 per cent in 1995 to 51 per cent in 2013. Procedures involving dogs, non-human primates, cats and horses (i.e. specially protected species) decreased by 23 per cent (-5,000) over the same period to 16,800 and accounted for 0.4 per cent of all procedures in 2013.


Mice, fish and rats were the most commonly used species in 2013, with 3.08 million procedures (75%) undertaken on mice (+18,294 compared with the previous year), 507,373 (12%) on fish (+6,543) and 266,265 (6%) on rats (-12,121). For the remaining species, there were increases for guinea pigs (+13,602); sheep (+2,919); rabbits (+1,233); pigs (+350); gerbils (+279); non-human primates (+216) and reptiles (+183). There were falls for the following species: birds (-13,259); amphibians (-3,338); cattle (-1,167); goats (-969) and hamsters (-354).

The numbers of procedures for safety testing (toxicology) decreased by 0.5 per cent (-2,000) to 375,000. A similar proportion to 2012 were undertaken to meet at least one legislative/regulatory requirement (92% compared with 94%).

The number of non-toxicology procedures increased by 0.4 per cent (+13,600) to 3.75 million and included rises, largely driven by an increase in the breeding of GM/HM animals, for the following fields of research: genetics (+58,200); physiology (+41,300); pharmaceutical research and development (+35,900); psychology (+8,400); therapeutics (+6,400) and alcohol (+2,000). There were falls in the fields of nutrition (-76,700); parasitology (-16,200); biochemistry (-14,600); pharmacology (-12,200); ecology (-12,100) and animal science (-3,000).



Excerpt of the Animal Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain

Home Office, July 10, 2014

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