Change means danger for lab animals

Pushing for leaps forward, not backward steps.

A major step backwards in regulation threatens to weaken vital and necessary protection for lab animals.

36 years of hard work to protect lab animals could be undone in an instance through a single, ill-conceived 'Change Programme'. Sadly, our pleas for a rethink are currently being ignored. We need your voice so that we can be heard.

Why are lab animals at greater risk than before?

Animal experiments in the UK are regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. This is implemented by the Home Office Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU) which, until recently, has used structures and processes that have been established and fine-tuned over the past 36 years to improve and protect lab animal welfare.

The ASRU has now set up a new system for regulating animal experiments across Great Britain called the 'Change Programme', which has worryingly dismantled this system with potentially serious animal welfare consequences.

The bottom line: Lab animals in Britain are now facing less protection, meaning a huge step backwards for animal welfare.

Our concerns with the new lab animal regulations

1. FEWER official visits

The system for assessing whether labs comply with the law has moved from a programme of regular, often unannounced and mainly 'in person' visits - to a less frequent, 'audit'-based system, often carried out remotely. 

2. MORE paperwork

There's now a focus on assessing the processes and paperwork, rather than the animal welfare outcomes, with less emphasis on actually inspecting the animals, meeting the staff and seeing how things are done.

3. REDUCED standards

ASRU is only focussing on ensuring that establishments comply with the basic 'minimum standards' required. ASRU Inspectors no longer play a role in helping to promote 'good practice' that will improve animal welfare and the quality of UK science.

4. Expertise may be DROPPED

The requirement for ASRU inspectors to have specialist qualifications in either veterinary science or medicine may be dropped in the future.

5. LESS PRIORITY may be given to animals

Key aspects of the legislation, and how they're implemented, will likely be reviewed and could be weakened. This includes the 'harm-benefit analysis' - the requirement to consider the potential benefits of each proposed scientific study against the likely harms to animals, enabling a judgement as to the justification for the study.

The changes also increase the chance that the regulator will miss important issues and concerns. This will significantly impact on maintaining and improving standards for lab animals.

We believe these changes significantly dilute vital protections for lab animals. We're not willing to watch Britain risk lab animal welfare and I'm sure you're not either.

The RSPCA, and many within the scientific community, have repeatedly raised concerns about the dangerous direction of the Change Programme. However, ASRU has stated that it will not change course, despite clear evidence the Change Programme is not working.

If, like us, you think this is unacceptable, please help us and take action for animals today.

Join our call for better lab animal welfare

The UK is a major user of animals in research and testing. Considering the animals used in scientific procedures, those killed for their cells and organs, or simply because they are 'surplus' - the UK life science sector impacts on around 5 million animals every year!

By writing to your MP now you will be encouraging the Home Secretary to review the ASRU Change Programme. Your voice could help ensure that the use of animals in research and testing in the UK is subject to robust regulations that are effectively enforced. Thank you for speaking up for animals.

Stand up for animals by emailing your MP using the form below.

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