Thank you to all those who contacted me about the use of animals in scientific research.
I support the phasing out of animal testing entirely.
I have long believed the UK should lead the world with high animal welfare standards, where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation.
It need not be a binary choice between animal and human welfare. I am therefore proud the Labour Government in 1997 banned cosmetics testing on animals and later extended this to cosmetic ingredients in 1998.
Improvements over recent years to animal testing practices are welcome. Non-animal methods for research have also advanced over time and I want to see more of these used.
However, I remain concerned at the lack of transparency around animal testing project licence applications, as well as the continued permissibility of ‘severe’ suffering as defined in UK law.
I believe the Government should undertake a comprehensive review of animal testing, with a view to improving practice, limiting animal suffering and increasing transparency, with a long-term objective to phase out animal testing entirely.
I further think we should look at ending the permittance of ‘severe’ suffering as defined in UK legislation within an achievable timeframe, as well as contributing to the development and validation of non-animal research methods and technologies and the encouragement of research in the field.
The UK Government believes animal testing remains a vital tool in improving understanding of how biological systems work both in health and disease and in the development of new medicines, treatments and technologies. It says it is committed to maintaining a rigorous regulatory system which ensures animal research is carried out only where no practicable alternative exists and under controls which keep suffering to a minimum, and to the replacement, reduction, and refinement of the use of animals in research, known as the 3Rs.
I believe as times and views change, so must our behaviour. We should work together to eliminate animal testing and stop pain for animals during such procedures in the meantime.