Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Animal Experiments should we be more open

In the UK there has been a history of militant anti-vivisectionists and any researcher alive in the 1980's would be well aware to the threats to life and limb with letter & cars bombs etc. As such people working with animals tend to keep their mouth shut. As a consequence of this documents relating to animal work have not been readily available.

The Government want more transparency and people to talk more openly about animal work. They made a clamp down on the militants by seeking to target people and their funds and it is estimated that there are not a lot of hard core animal rights terrorists out there. They tend to target people working on Cats and Dogs and Monkeys but who knows what they get up to.

Should we talk about animal experiments of the Blog?

The UK has protected animals in research in Law for many many years, with legal consequences for abuse
In February 2014, the Coalition Government published a plan for the 3Rs in animal research

"Within the Delivery Plan we outlined our duty to promote understanding and awareness of the use of animals where no alternative exists - this is part of our work on openness and transparency. In the Plan the Coalition Government has committed to a public consultation for the review of Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act. Section 24 prevents openness on information we hold in connection with our regulatory activities under the Act. It is incompatible with Coalition Government policy on openness and transparency, including the public right of access to information held by public authorities that is provided by the Freedom of Information Act 2000".

"The public offers conditional support for the use of animals in research, but rightly expects that any harm to animals must be more than balanced by benefits to humans, animals or the environment. To maintain public trust we must be as open and transparent as 
possible about activities under the regulatory framework". 

The current provisions under Section 24 mean that the Home Office cannot release any information received in confidence.

One of the requirements of the recent transposition of the European Union Directive (2010/63/EU) is that the UK must publish non-technical summaries of all authorised project licences. These are lay summaries that detail the objectives of all research projects that involve animals, and list the potential benefits and adverse effects of the research. These summaries also detail how the licence applicant has considered the 3R’s. These summaries will commence being published online during 2014. 

An assured degree of confidentiality is still required. Protecting health and safety is a particular concern for people and places involved in animal research and confidentiality remains obligatory for people or place names. The Government also reaffirms its legal 
responsibility towards safeguarding confidentiality of information that constitutes intellectual property, whilst supporting a more open and transparent environment surrounding the use of animals in scientific research and increasing public understanding of the use of animals where no alternative exists.

As a regulator, we are unique in that we are legally obliged to collect large amounts of detailed information about research scientists’ most valued assets – their ideas and scientific hypotheses – in order to grant authorisation for researchers to pursue those 
ideas and hypotheses for their livelihood. This places especial responsibility on Government to ensure the appropriate protection of this information. Any amendments we make to Section 24 should not harm the competitiveness of the UK in the life sciences. 

The Government wants to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to continue the progression to an increasingly open and transparent environment, both in the use of animals in scientific research and overall Government policy. However, before committing to any action it is imperative that we have identified all the relevant issues pertaining to our proposed policy options. 


Option 1: Retain Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). 

Option 2a: Repeal Section 24 and create a criminal offence of malicious disclosure of information about the use of animals in scientific research.

Option 2b: As option 2a but with the amended legislative framework to include a statutory prohibition on disclosure of information relating only to people, places and intellectual 

Option 3: Repeal Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). 

YOU HAVE A SAY IT IS A PUBLIC CONSULTATION although the point of this is to get rid of option 1.


  1. Of course the person responsible for this (Norman Baker) is a committed anti-animal research campaigner. His appointment was not welcomed by the scientific community.

    Interesting that mice feel stress when involved in research and this may alter outcomes.

    1. Interesting. This study suggests that mice can sense or smell (armpits) males that stress them out a bit so they felt less pain. Females did not get the same reaction

      "The data imply that male experimenters should wait 30 to 45 minutes in the room with the animals before they start testing". ...em?....however could the Home Office UK force researches to do this. They could if they wanted to.

      So the sex of the experimenter should be recorded in the methods of papers ....ARRIVE guideline number 23?...Where do you stop?

      Sorge, R.E., Martin, L.J., Isbester, K.A., Sotocinal, S.G., et al. (2014). Olfactory exposure to males, including men, causes stress and related analgesia in rodents. Nature Methods doi:10.1038/nmeth.2935

    2. I stop at phases of the moon:-)


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