Category Archives: Statistics

Animal Research in South Korea in 2016

In February 2017 the (APQA) of South Korea released its animal research numbers for 2016. We spoke to the Animal Protection & Welfare Division and have been able to get a . The tables below were produced by the APQA, and we thank Dr Lee for providing these figures.

In 2016, South Korea used 2,878,907 animals in research, up 14.8% from the previous year.

Animal research in South Korea for 2016 by species

Rodents, fish and birds accounted for over 97% of animals used in research – similar to figures found in Europe. Most of the rise in animal experiments came from an increase in rodents (+19.5%), though numbers for fish (+15.2%) and birds (+60.7%) also contributed. There were falls in several categories, including primate experiments, which fell 18.8%.

South Korea also produced severity statistics, similar to those in Europe. 2.6% of research showed no harm to the animal, 28.4% was mild, 35.5% was moderate and was 33.4% severe.We are unclear if these categorizations are based on pre-experiment licenses (what the researcher believed the severity would be) or post-experiment evaluation (what the researcher saw the severity to be).

Trends in South Korean animal experiments 2008-2016

The number of animals used in research has risen sharply over the last nine years, up 279% over the period, rising at a fairly steady rate of over 250,000 animals per year. To see why, take a look at a graph, , on the growth of R&D in South Korea over the same period.

From Nature:

The huge rise in spending on basic and applied research means that animal experiments were likely to rise (and did) over the same period. In 2013, South Korea had more researchers per thousand people in employment (12.84) than Japan (10.19), the USA  (8.81) or Germany (8.54). Medical and health sciences were the largest discipline (by publications) in South Korea ().

If you know of any animal research statistics not on our list, please contact us.

Disappointing lack of context by Cruelty Free International, as worst press release on animal testing numbers is revealed

Cruelty Free International (CFI), a British-based animal rights group (formerly known as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection), has produced its about animal research numbers at British Universities. The release, entitled: “Disappointing lack of progress at UK universities as worst offenders for animal testing are revealed”, is full of hyperbole, half-truths and even a few outright factual mistakes. The release is likely to leave those readers who have little prior knowledge of animal research, with a less accurate impression of what it entails than if they’d consulted the universities themselves. The full CFI release can be found at the bottom of this article.

The press release begins with

Cruelty Free International has today revealed the five worst offending universities for animal testing in the UK, which are each responsible for carrying out experiments on over 175,000 animals per year. The universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, Cambridge, University College and King’s College London, forced 997,839 animals to suffer in experiments in 2015. This represents a collective increase of 7% compared to 2014.

This might be more “revealing” if it wasn’t for the fact that these universities (and five more) came together six months earlier to . This release included of research being done at the institutions in order to provide additional context to the numbers. The article was picked up by the (and a few other outlets).

From Huffington Post UK

The article included the number of procedures on animals carried out by each institution:

Perhaps CFI didn’t see it, you may ask? Well no, CFI’s Katy Taylor is quoted in the Huffington Post article, responding to the information provided by the Universities.  Interestingly, CFI ends the first paragraph of its press release by noting that this represents a 7% rise by the top five universities over their 2014 statistics. This rise is exactly in line with the 7% rise in animal experiments that happened across all institutions in the UK (on average).

Cruelty Free International goes on to provide a table of the numbers (which they erroneously describe as “number of animals” when they mean “number of procedures” – a rookie mistake for an organisation which claims to be an authority on the issue). It notes the rise in the number of procedures at four out of the five universities, but describes the (very small) decline in numbers at the University of Oxford as “virtually no change”. That probably sounded better for their release. CFI also gets the number of procedures at the University of Cambridge wrong – it is 181,080, a number which is .

The five universities mentioned also appear together in another list – they account for five of the top six British Universities on the . Perhaps what CFI describe as the “worst universities for animal experiments” are in fact some of the best universities in the world for biomedical research (all five are also in the top 50 world institutions for “biological sciences”) and for advancing human health.

These are the six top ranked British Universities on the world university leagues tables. The numbers on the left represent their position in the world, including institution outside the UK.

CFI’s press release then goes on to make unverified claims about things going on at the five universities. Because CFI provides no evidence or paper references for the claims that, for example, monkeys were “deprived of food or water”, or were “restrained for hours”, it is impossible to speak to the veracity of these claims. However, similar claims by other animal rights groups have often been found to be either false or misleading.

Dr Katy Taylor, CFI’s Director of Science, who is quoted in the press release, suggests these universities should be leading in “replacing and reducing animal testing”. Setting aside the fact that these institutions do animal research, and very little animal testing (which is a term for safety tests, usually done by pharmaceutical companies and CROs, and require by law before potential new medicines can move into human trials), the truth is that these institutions are leading the way in both animal and non-animal methods. For instance, researchers at the University of Cambridge have won , for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of animals in research, in , , and ; Oliver Britton at the University of Oxford won the prize in for a computer model of cardiac electrophysiology; and Dr Anna Williams at the University of Edinburgh was for her work on cell cultures which can reduce the number of mice needed to test MS treatments. King’s College London, meanwhile, has developed a number of animal alternatives, such as this which reduces the need to use fish, and University College London is the home of the  alternatives conference. Just because an institution is doing great work Replacing and Reducing animal research, doesn’t mean overall numbers will come down – as this is influenced by many factors.

Finally we come to one of trickier claims. Katy Taylor goes on to say:

63% of the 65 universities that reported testing on animals in 2015 still do not publish their animal testing statistics online, despite claiming that they agree there should be more transparency.

It is worth noting that the Universities that do the most animal research DO publish their statistics online. A quick search found 22 institutions that definitely published their statistics – they accounted for 1,612,166 procedures, of the 1,977,928 procedures conducted by all universities and medical schools in 2015 (). So rather than saying 63% of universities do not publish their figures (remembering that some of these institutions may only do a few dozen procedures), it might be more meaningful to say that 81.5% of procedures are accounted for in the data published by universities. It is unclear where CFI’s figure of 1,920,171 animals comes from as it does not appear in the .

Taylor then goes on to attack the University of Bristol over its statistics:

Bristol University now stands alone as the only university experimenting on animals that still refuses to provide its figures on the grounds that it does not hold the information centrally, despite promising to update its record keeping.

The Freedom of Information Act sets limits on the time that institutions can be expected to spend answering any single FOI question. The Information Commissioner’s Office has agreed with the University of Bristol and has upheld their claim that the University would be unable to provide the information asked of it due to the excessive lengths of time it would take to collate. The institution is in the process of changing how this information is collated and has expressed its intention to proactively publish this in the future.

It is an open question as to why, six months after a press release from UK universities went the extra mile to inform the general public about how many animals were used for what purposes at these institutions, anyone would strip it of its context and case studies, add the word “revealed” and republish it alongside their own anti-animal research diatribe.

Given that Cruelty Free International regularly calls for greater transparency in animal research, surely they should be welcoming the work that top universities are doing to provide more information about the research they conduct – rather than using this information as the basis of a press release criticising such research. We must hope that journalists choose to report the accurate numbers and representative case studies of medical progress released by the universities, rather than the account of an organisation whose sole purpose is to end the use of animals in experiments.

James

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Press Release sent by Cruelty Free International
Disappointing lack of progress at UK universities as worst offenders for animal testing are revealed
Nearly 1 million animals tested at five worst universities for animal experiments
Cruelty Free International has today revealed the five worst offending universities for animal testing in the UK, which are each responsible for carrying out experiments on over 175,000 animals per year. The universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, Cambridge, University College and King’s College London, forced 997,839 animals to suffer in experiments in 2015 (the year for which the most recent figures are available). This represents a collective increase of 7% compared to 2014.
In 2015 the following numbers of animals were used by each of the top five universities:
  • Oxford University (226,214) – virtually no change on the previous year
  • Edinburgh University (212,695) – 6% increase
  • University College London (202,554) – 15% increase
  • Cambridge University (181,090) – 13% increase
  • King’s College London (175,296) – 6% increase
According to the Home Office, testing in universities continues to make up almost 50% of all animal experiments in Great Britain. Despite claims that animals are only used in tests where there is no viable alternative, the figures collected for 2015 by Cruelty Free International under Freedom of Information (FOI) requests or accessed from university websites show a collective increase of 7.5% in animal testing at universities from the previous year. In 2015, over 1,920,171 animals were used in tests.
Four of the worst five universities reported subjecting macaque and/or marmoset monkeys to experiments (all except for Edinburgh). Recently published experiments from these institutions included monkeys being deprived of food or water, being restrained for hours in ‘primate chairs’ to perform repetitive computer tasks, having electrodes surgically implanted into their skulls, coils implanted in their eyes, having portions of their brain damaged, being trapped inside plastic boxes or injected with antidepressant drugs.
Experiments by university staff were also carried out on rabbits, sheep, guinea pigs, ferrets, fish, birds, frogs, rats and mice. Recent examples include blocking or cutting the arteries of pigs and rabbits to induce heart attacks, and purposefully stressing rats by restraining them inside plastic tubes, restricting their food and keeping them in isolated, barren cages.
Dr Katy Taylor, Director of Science at Cruelty Free International, said: “Our top universities should be leading the way in replacing and reducing animal testing, yet they remain some of the biggest users of animals in Britain. The public wants to see meaningful and lasting changes towards ending the use of animals in laboratories; our universities should be setting the example not adding to the problem.”
63% of the 65 universities that reported testing on animals in 2015 still do not publish their animal testing statistics online, despite claiming that they agree there should be more transparency. Bristol University now stands alone as the only university experimenting on animals that still refuses to provide its figures on the grounds that it does not hold the information centrally, despite promising to update its record keeping. A Cruelty Free International complaint to the Information Tribunal about this failure is ongoing [1].
ENDS

Slovakia releases 2016 animal research data

Slovakia has become the first EU country to report back on the number of animal procedures it conducted in 2016.

There were 12,855 procedures on animals in Slovakia , a 5% decline from .

Animal research in Slovakia for 2016 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Rodents accounted for over 95% of research procedures in Slovakia. Less usual, was that there were more rats used than mice – though this was not true in 2015. No dogs were used in 2016 (34 procedures in 2015), and the number of procedures on cats fell from 29 to 11. The main changes were a 13% fall in procedures on mice, and a 59% rise in the use of rabbits.

Looking at the severity statistics, we can see 52% were mild or non-recovery, with 46% moderate (up from 27% in 2015) and 1.2% were severe (down from 2.0% in 2015).

Other facts found in the :

  • The most common use of research animals was Basic Research (71.3%), followed by Regulatory use and Routine Production (23.4%), Maintenance of breeding colonies (3.1%) and Translational/Applied research (2.2%).
  • Within the basic research, common areas of study were the Nervous system (30%), Reproductive system (16%) and Immune system (14%).
  • 99.67% of the animals used were bred within the EU
  • No animals were re-used.
  • 7% were genetically modified and 93% were not

Source:
Slovakia:
Slovakia:

Speaking of Research

Latest animal research statistics from Belgium, Greece and Poland

Speaking of Research try to keep on top of the latest statistics coming from governments around the world. This post will look at three countries which have recently published their 2015 statistics.

Belgium

Belgium’s three regions (, , and ) independently publish the statistics for their region. We have collated the results (1-3) into a single table covering all of Belgium.

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Animal research in Belgium for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

There were 566,603 procedures in Belgium in 2015, down almost 15% from the previous year. The numbers fell in all three regions of Belgium, with the number of procedures in Flanders falling 14%, Brussels falling 7% and Wallonia falling 18%. By species, the biggest falls were in fish (down 24%), rats (down 46%) and guinea pigs (down 19%). This all follows a general downward trend in numbers over the past two decades.

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Trends in Belgian animal experiments 1997-2015.

Unusually for a European country, rabbits were used more than rats in 2015 (not true in 2014). Mice, rats, fish and birds still accounted for 87% of research, rising to 85% when rabbits were included.

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Links:

(1) Brussels – (2) Flanders – 
(3) Wallonia – (4) Belgium 2014 Statistics

Greece

Greece published its  recently (5).

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Animal research in Greece for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

There were 47,784 procedures on animals in Greece in 2015, a rise of 13% (5,541 procedures) from the previous year. Over 97%  were mice, fish, rats and birds (mainly mice and fish). The number of fish more than tripled to 13,817 procedures. Unlike the previous year, there were procedures on cats (47), dogs (4) and primates (3). These species account for less than 0.15% of animals used.

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The severity statistics show that 70% were classed as non-recovery or mild. 6.5% were classified as severe.

Severity of animal experiments in Greece

Links:

(5) Greece 2015 – 

Poland

After the publication of the 2014 statistics we had to make an editor’s note because we spotted some unusual trends. It turned out that Poland had erroneously added over 400,000 fish to their statistics. We have concerns about the 2015 data which is why we have not written it up in full.

The show that there were 174,456 procedures on animals in 2015-fake id order. This is a 25% fall compared with the previous year (6).

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This data may be incorrect. See text below.

Our concerns are twofold. Firstly, the number of procedures on fish – 11,561 – is exactly the same as the . This seems exceptionally unlikely. Secondly, there appears to be a discrepancy between numbers of animal procedures in the, and the numbers in the basic data. For example, the severity tables show 88,776 procedures on mice. The general data for 2015 shows 88,601 procedures.

For these reasons, we recommend caution when using this data. Speaking of Research will continue to try and get to the bottom of this data (as we did for the 2014 statistics).

Links

(6) Poland 2015 – 
(7) Poland 2014 Statistics

Speaking of Research

Canada’s animal research in numbers for 2015

The statistics have been released by the (CCAC). These numbers reflect research conducted by CCAC-certified institutions and by people working at CCAC-certified institutions, even if the research involves animals located outside of Canada. The criteria for CCAC certification can be found . This also means that not all animals used for research in Canada are included in these reports. The CCAC reports that in 2015, 3,570,352 animals were used for research, teaching, and testing in Canada. This is a decrease of 4.8% from the 3,750,125 animals that were used in 2014.

Animal research in Canada for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Similar to other countries, mice remain the most popular species used for animal research, with an overall increase of 12%. Fish are a close second in terms of use in 2015, though there was a decrease of 26% in their use compared to 2014. The number of cattle used in research approximately doubled compared to 2014. All other reported species saw decreases in reported use.

Click to Enlarge

84.2% of the animals used in research and testing were conducted on mice, rats, fish, and birds, which was slightly lower than in other countries. However, with the inclusion of cattle, this percentage rises to 93.9%.  Similarly to other countries, monkeys (4,942), cats (5,035), and dogs (9,573) comprised a small proportion of animals used for research, together accounting for 0.5% of all research animals, with an overall decrease of 5,592 animals from 2014 for these species.

Pain, suffering, and harm were also measured and classified under four categories of invasiveness:

  • None: Experiments which cause little of no discomfort or stress
  • Mild: Experiments which cause minor stress or pain of short duration
  • Moderate: Expierments which cause moderate to severe distress or discomfort
  • Severe: Procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals.

It is important to understand that every animal in a group will receive the highest category of any single animal in that group, so if a study involved giving different animals different doses of a compound (in a single study), then all animals would receive a category of invasiveness equal to that received by the highest dose group. For further details on what these categories mean, please see . In 2015, 31.1% of experiments were classified as “none” (this includes studies where the animal are anaesthetised and never woken up), 37.4% were considered “mild”, 29.5% were “moderate”, and 2% were “severe”.

Animals can be used in more than one protocol, provided these additional protocols do not result in pain. Some animals have been counted more than once in this dataset, which is why the total is higher than the total number of animals used in 2015. These data cannot be compared accurately to animal data reports prior to 2012.

Overall, there seems to be an upward trend in the number of animals used in research in Canada over the last 20 years, although this pattern is not particularly clear due to annual fluctuations. These fluctuations may be a consequence of the accounting procedures used (which changed in 2012), and may only reflect animals used in CCAC-certified institutions.

Trends in Canadian animal experiments 1996-2015. 2010 data temporarily unavailable due to an accounting error being fixed.

Finally, the provides some information on animal use. The most common purpose of animal experiments was for basic research (61.2%), followed by “development of products or appliances for human or veterinary medicine” (16.0%); studies into human and animal diseases or disorders (12.9%); Regulatory tests (“animal testing”) (5.5%); and finally education and training (4.4%).

For more information see our .

Jeremy Bailoo

The USDA’s removal of information about animal research is a step backwards for transparency

Speaking of Research has considerable concerns about the wealth of information that has been removed from the USDA website in the last week. The USDA has removed access to an online database that allowed the public to easily obtain documents involving the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).This information includes the annual reports showing the number of animals used in research each year, and the animal welfare reports that are produced. [Direct links to annual reports were broken, but the reports still exist on the – Ed.]

According to , tens of thousands of reports have been removed, relating to around 1200 research labs and 6500 non-research facilities that are registered or licensed by the USDA. A from the USDA says:

Based on our commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals, APHIS is implementing actions to remove documents it posts on APHIS’ website involving the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that contain personal information

No doubt many will see some irony in starting a statement about the removal of information with “Based on our commitment to being transparent”. That said, it is not yet clear if reports are being removed permanently or simply temporarily removed until they have been assessed for privacy issues. Though the previously public information will still be available through FOIA requests, the statement concludes by saying “If the same records are frequently requested via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website”.

It is not just animal rights groups who have expressed concern. Matthew Bailey, President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, :

“I would certainly agree that protection of personal information is of utmost importance, especially given the rich history of targeting the individuals involved in animal research. However, this change also makes it more time consuming, although not impossible, for organizations like FBR to analyze trends in animal use in research.”

Speaking of Research also has concerns. We believe the availability of data can foster an environment of openness and transparency about animal research. When information is hidden, particularly where it was once available, the public will naturally wonder why many stakeholders have cause for concern: the public wonders what is being hidden and why, and researchers must devote even more resources to combatting the public perception that they are not transparent.

Speaking of Research uses the type of information that was available to help explain the realities of animal research to the public and media.

The USDA’s decision is also out of step with the direction of travel of many other countries. Approximately one month ago, after urgings from Speaking of Research, the EU website providing links to the annual statistical reports on animal research of member countries.

In our own commitment to openness, Speaking of Research has uploaded the Annual Reports of the USDA’s animal research to its website. They are available on our US Statistics page, or can be found below. We will be looking at what other information we can practically add in coming weeks.

Thousands of removed USDA documents have now been .

Speaking of Research

Germany’s animal research in numbers for 2015

The statistics were submitted to the European Commission last week. We have summarised the data below. We compare that to the also available on their website.

Animal research in Germany for 2015 by species [Click to Enlarge]

Germany used 2,799,961 animals in 2015, with an overall decrease (15.5%) in animal use when compared to 2014. Similar to other countries, mice remain the most popular species used in animal research, with an increase in use of 5% compared to 2014. Fish, birds, other rodents and other non-mammals saw sizable percentage decreases in their overall use compared to 2014, albeit compared to the total number of animals used, these relative differences are still small. Fish in particular saw a decrease because of differences in reporting between 2014 and 2015. According to the (BMEL), in , “708,462 “other fish” (including about 563,600 fish larvae) were reported (21.38 percent). By , however, the share of animals in the “other fish” category was only 2.88% (80,777 animals).”

Mice, rats and fish account for 91% of all animal procedures, rising to 95% if you include rabbits. Similarly to 2014, Germany remains one of the few European countries where rabbits are the fourth most commonly used species in 2015. Dogs, cats and primates accounted for 0.31% of all animals, despite a doubling in the number of animals used for these species.

Click to Enlarge

This year was the second year where there was retrospective assessment and reporting of severity (i.e. reporting how much an animal actually suffered rather than how much it was predicted to suffer prior to the study). showed that 43% of procedures were classed as , 17% as , 4% as , and 36% as , where an animal is anaesthetised for surgery, and then not woken up afterwards. Compared to 2014, there were some noticeable shifts in relation to severity. While the number of procedures which caused animals moderate and severe levels of stress and distress decreased, the numbers of procedures that were terminal increased.

Click to Enlarge

Looking at the historical data, we see that like several other countries, the number of animal experiments increased steadily between 2000-2012. The sharp increase in 2014 followed by a decrease in 2015, reflect in part differences in the accounting procedures used between 2014 and 2015. Thus, it is too early to say whether the fall in 2015 is a one-off or a sign of a future drop-off in animal experiments. It is likely that this drop also partly reflects a decrease in funding to science during the recession and economic turmoil of the past few years. Next year’s data may provide some insight into whether and how this trend will continue.

Trends in German animal experiments 2000-15. Click to Enlarge.

Other interesting information provided by the includes:

  • 8% of animals used were bred within the EU [Table 3]
  • The main purpose of research was “Basic Research” (58.7%), followed by “Regulatory use and Routine production” (22.5%), “Maintenance of colonies of established genetically altered animals, not used in other procedures”, “Translational and applied Research” (13.6%), and all other uses (5.2 %) [Table 9]
  • Two-thirds of the total dogs, cats and primates were used for Regulatory testing [Table 9]
  • 40% of animals were genetically altered, compared with 60% which were not. Over 98% of the genetically altered animals were mice or zebrafish [Table 20]

For further information about animal research (Tierversuche) in Germany see our background briefing, available in  and .

Speaking of Research

2015 Statistics:

2014 Statistics:

N.B. Some our more eagle-eyed readers may have noted the 2014 statistics referenced in this article do not correspond to those we published a year ago. This is because the German authorities changed the counting methodologies for 2015 and re-released an altered 2014 statistics so that they could be fairly compared to the 2015 data.