LABORATORY animals were used in more than 4m procedures last year, according to new figures described as “shocking” by campaigners.
The annual animal testing report from the Home Office also revealed a 19 per cent increase in experiments involving Old World monkeys since 2013, partly due to the development of “smart” drugs.
The total number of experiments is said to have risen one per cent between 2013 and 2015.
Because of a change in the data collected, figures for 2014 were likely to have been “artificially low”, said the Home Office which regulates animal testing.
Around half of the procedures related to the creation or breeding of genetically modified animals that were not used in further tests. Of the 2.08 million experimental procedures which were carried out, six per cent (123,000) were categorised as “severe” in terms of suffering.
Almost a quarter of experiments (502,000) fell into the “moderate” category, which includes non life-threatening surgery conducted under general anaesthesia.
Specially protected species - dogs, cats, horses and non-human primates - were used in 0.4 per cent of experimental procedures, birds in 3.4 per cent, rats in 6.5 per cent and fish in 14 per cent. More than 1m experiments involved mice, accounting for 73 per cent of laboratory tests.
Old and New World Monkeys were used in 3,600 procedures, dogs in 4,600 and cats in 210.
Animal Justice Project said the “shameful” figures along with the recent High Court decision to allow a beagle breeding farm in East Yorkshire to expand “reveals false promises and a government that has no real commitment to ending animal research.”
Dr Penny Hawkins, head of the RSPCA’s animal research team, added: “These animals deserve better, and much more could be done in practice to challenge animal use, reduce suffering and improve welfare.”
Understanding Animal Research said animals “remain vital to medical and veterinary research.”
Professor Roger Lemon, from the Institute of Neurology at University College London, said work involving primates was vital to tackling human brain disorders. “It’s the cornerstone of a lot of our understanding of how the brain works and how brain diseases occur.”