The UK Home Office has released the statistics on animal research in Great Britain for 2021, which show that the total number of invasive procedures on mice, rats, birds, fish, dogs, cats and primates was 3.06 million, an increase of 6% from the 2.88 million in 2020. The percentage of Genetically Altered animals being bred for vivisection has been increasing in the last few years and reached 43% of all procedures in 2021. Basic research represented 51% of the procedures, regulatory purposes 21%, translational/applied research 27%, and other purposes 1%.
However, the report does not cover all the animals used in vivisection, experiments, and testing. Invertebrates such as fruit flies and nematode worms are commonly used by experimenters, but they are not covered by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and are therefore not included in the report.
The most common areas studied in basic research were the nervous system (23%), immune system (20%) and oncology (12%). The most common areas of research were animal diseases and disorders (48%), human cancer (15%), and human infectious disorders (12%). Testing for toxicity and other safety testing represented 52% of the total procedures. Data from the reports show that 13% of studies caused, according to the researchers themselves, moderate suffering, while 3% caused severe suffering (86,785 procedures). The UK, like many other nations, have broadly committed itself to the 3Rs principles regarding experiments on animals (Reduction, Refinement, and Replacement), but these statistics show that such commitment was not serious, as an increase of animals used (more procedures would need more animals) and still allowing at least 16% of procedures (which means at least 500,000 procedures) causing significant suffering, is clearly going against the 3Rs. Anyone working in the UK anti-vivisection movement knows that the current legislation — sometimes claimed to be of higher standards than other countries — exists to protect scientists and universities, not to help animals. The 2021 official stats on animal research confirms this.