A rise in the number of animals used in laboratory experiments in some EU countries - including an almost 200% rise in Ireland - was condemned as “Europe’s shame” today.
Latest figures compiled by the European Commission show a slight decrease in the total number used across the 27 countries, from 12.1 million in 2005 to 12 million in 2008.
But the figures also show national increases, ranging from a tiny 0.13% rise in France to 610% in Estonia.
Ireland’s use of animals rose by 197% in 2008, with a 21% rise in the UK.
But in terms of numbers, Ireland used only 112,000 animals, compared with 2,266,884 in the UK and 2,328,380 in France, where latest figures relate to 2007.
The UK, France and Germany (an 11% increase in 2008, to 2,021,782), make up 55% of the total number of animals used throughout the EU.
The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), expressed “profound disappointment at the lack of a significant decrease in the number of animals used in experiments across the EU”.
ECEAE chief executive Michelle Thew went on: “Despite the opportunity to improve the lot of animals in laboratories, recently adopted (EU) legislation does not include any mechanism to systematically reduce and ultimately replace the use of animals in research.
“The future looks bleak for the millions of animals who will continue to suffer and die each year in EU laboratories. Tragically we do not believe the situation will improve during the next five years. This is Europe’s shame.”
The figures show that in 2008 the animals used included more than 21,000 dogs (a 12% drop compared with 2005), more than 330,000 rabbits (a 7% rise), more than 9.5 million rodents(including an 11% rise in mice), more than 4,000 cats (a 5% rise), and more than 92,000 pigs (a 40% increase).
The experimental purposes included “fundamental biological research”, and “the production and quality control of products and devices for veterinary medicine”.
There was an increase in the use of animals for testing food additives (from 34,225 to 54,164) and more than 319,000 animals were poisoned to death in toxicology tests – mostly rats and mice but also 354 dogs.
In Ireland rodents accounted for 74% of all animals used, compared with 67% in 2005. Fish accounted for 20% of all animals.
No non-human primates were used and no animals were used in the testing of cosmetic products.
Some 56% of ‘old world’ primates are still imported from non-EU countries and include wild-caught animals and their offspring.