With a rising number of animals used in research, and a staggering toll of 1.3 million animals killed in the name of research in UK labs, there is a serious need for change. In response to this, the UK government has released a policy paper, “Working to Reduce the Use of Animals in Research: Delivery Plan” that addresses many facets of animal-related research.

The plan is not perfect (it starts out with section 1.1 explaining “the continuing need to use animals in research,” which doesn’t exactly seem like how a document trying to move away from animal research should begin). In essence, the government is actively promoting the 3 R’s, reducing the number of animals used in experiments, refining the experiments to cause less harm, and replacing animals altogether.

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In light of this slightly promising direction, there is doubt about the government plan’s ability to actually reduce the number of animals used in research.

“The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav), which campaigns to end animal testing, called the strategy a ‘missed opportunity.’ Buav’s chief executive, Michelle Thew, said: ‘This is a whitewash and shows that the Government has in reality given up on what it promised to do and that is to reduce the number of animal experiments,’”the BBC reports.

Other groups, according to the BBC, do welcome the change.

Via BBC, Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of Understanding Animal Research, said “We welcome this very clear cross-government statement of the continuing need for well-regulated animal research in the UK.”

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In reality, it’s better than what we have here in the U.S, which is basically no government stance on the reduction of animals used for research. Even though we have many available alternatives, there is a lot of red tape to pass through here and abroad to get the alternatives accepted by the industry. While we applaud this move by the UK, we do wish that the language would have been stronger in regards to replacing animal research altogether.

Image Source: Nagesh Jayaram/Flickr

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