An increase in the use of live animals in scientific experiments across Northern Ireland has been described as “disturbing”.
Green Party leader Steven Agnew was commenting on figures released by the Department of Health which reveal that across Northern Ireland, 24,166 live animals were used in experiments last year – up almost 3,000 on the previous year.
The Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Northern Ireland 2017 report reveals that more than 20,058 experimental procedures were completed in 2017, with the majority involving mice (50%), cattle (31.1%), rats and domestic fowl.
“According to these stats, on average every day last year 66 animals were subject to often painful and damaging experiments,” Mr Agnew said.
“Mice were used in around half of the experiments, a third involved cows, with 102 dogs as well as 90 cats experimented upon.
“These animals were subjected to procedures that are often painful, distressing and which cause long term harm.
“Specifically, 8,000 procedures were described as moderate or severe which inflict pain, suffering and sometimes death upon the animal.
“I’m disturbed at this rise. I want to know why we are using more animals in experiments rather than seeking alternative methods.”
Scientific experiments are conducted on live animals for a variety of purposes, including research and testing for medicinal products.
Mr Agnew, who represents the North Down area, has called for the use of live animals in scientific experiments to be “phased out.”
“I’ll be writing to the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health to ask how we can phase out the use of animals in these often painful and deadly experiments,” he added.
The full Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Northern Ireland 2017 report can be accessed via the department’s website – www.health-ni.gov.uk