Animal testing halved in Ireland since EU directive, but campaigners say numbers remain too high
THE NUMBER of animals used in testing in Ireland has halved since a European Union directive came into force in 2013, new figures show.
Animal rights activists said the number of animals used for testing was still too high, with nearly 138,000 animals used last year.
The European directive of 2013, which aimed to improve animal welfare and ensure that animals are only used in studies when their use is necessary, introduced stricter regulations.
Scientific procedures involving animals can only take place following a detailed submission of the planned study (s) and subsequent approval by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) on the basis a favorable damage / benefit analysis.
There are also a number of reporting requirements such as the use of each animal and the severity experienced by the animal.
In 2020, there were a total of 137,988 uses of animals in procedures for research and testing purposes. This figure is slightly lower than the figure of 138,439 in 2019 and represents a significant reduction from the 277,559 animals used in 2013, the year of the first implementation of the EU directive.
Mice were the most commonly used species last year with 82% of total animal use.
In addition, 702 mice have been reported to have been used to create and maintain colonies of genetically modified animals. These 702 mice are not considered by the European Commission to have been directly used in research and testing.
The next most commonly used species was the rat, followed by the fish. Guinea pigs have been used 228 times, dogs have been used 24 times, and horses, donkeys and cross breeds have been used 238 times.
The animals reported as being used in the “other rodent” category were red squirrels studied as part of a conservation project to protect their populations and habitats.
Of the total number of uses of animals in procedures for research and testing purposes, 75% were used for regulatory purposes, which refers to legal requirements for testing safety, quality and drug activity (eg, biological drugs such as vaccines).
These tests are necessary to produce, place and maintain products or substances on the market.
“Basic research” refers to studies of a basic nature, which are designed to add knowledge about the structure, function or behavior of organisms.
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The most common subfield of ‘basic research’ at 31% was ‘immune system’, which refers to research focusing on the function and activities of the immune system in health and disease.
The most frequently reported true severity in animals when used in research and testing procedures was mild at 58%, followed by moderate at 26%. In 21,209 cases, the classification was “severe”.
Commenting on the latest figures, John Carmody of the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) called for a review of animal experiments and a review of the HPRA ‘replace, reduce, refine’ goal. under EU law.
“The public is going to be disgusted, shocked and disgusted to learn that dogs, horses and other animals are still used in experiments today as we are in a time of wonderful progress which is advancing in medical progress without use of animals as opposed to these latter figures essentially showing a catalog of animals of all species still used in experiments and treated as test objects as opposed to sentient beings who are clearly capable of feeling pain and suffering ” , did he declare.
“Mice and rats are abused in everything from toxicology tests – in which they are slowly poisoned to death – to painful burn experiences to psychological experiences that cause terror, anxiety, depression and depression. incapacity.”
In its report, the HPRA said it would continue to focus on “promoting the replacement of tests using animals with appropriate non-animal alternative tests, ensuring that the reduction principle is applied appropriately where animals are used in procedures, and in refining both the care and use of animals in procedures ”.
The HPRA has stated that it will ensure that animals are only used when there is no equivalent (non-animal) alternative technique available and that the risk-benefit analysis of the proposed use is favorable.