The Scottish Government Minister responsible for science, Mike Russell has sent Scotland for Animals a statement regarding our call for action on the country's appalling animal experimentation situation. See this and our response below.
Dr Andy Bishop, Head of Science and Government Division has also stated that a huge amount of correspondence has been sent to the Scottish Government regarding this issue since our appeal.
We're making sure that Authorities can't ignore this problem any longer. The Scottish Government and others have relied on the public not being aware of how many animals die each year in labs and equally important how they die. Vivisection industry lobbyists, protected by every secrecy and 'anti-terrorism' law in the books have had an open door to Ministers and MSP's and access to major sources of public funds.
Your pressure is making them sit up and take notice, we all need to keep this up.
There will be a Parliamentary election in Scotland next year so now is the time to start letting politicians know that enough's enough. Tell them you won't vote for any pro-vivisection candidate or party and you want a public enquiry into vivisection. Let them know in no uncertain terms they've roughly a year to convince you that they're going to clean up Scotland's act and start campaigning for an end to animal abuse in our labs.
We'll provide a sample email/ letter and contacts in a seperate bulletin shortly.
Remember we've alot more voting power than animal abusers, if we use it those who feed them and support them at Holyrood will be out looking for a new job.
(go here for Inveresk report mentioned in our response http://www.navs.org.uk/downloads/invereskreport.pdf )
From Mike Russell
I am responding to the campaign organised by Scotland for Animals as the Scottish Minister with responsibility for science, and on behalf of other Ministers who have received emails as part of this campaign. From these emails Scottish Ministers very much recognise the strength of feeling of many people in Scotland on this issue. The Scottish Government position is that we need to ensure that experimentation is tightly controlled and that high standards are maintained, while at the same time allowing vital research to be pursued.
As you indicate this is a matter reserved to the UK Government and all such experiments are regulated by the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Scottish Government has no direct role in advising on applications for licences under this Act, or in the way the Act is implemented. However, the Scottish Government is satisfied that all experimentation in Scotland is properly and tightly controlled under this Act. The Home Office is the UK Department responsible for implementing this Act and you may also like to see their Frequently Asked Questions on this subject which can be found at: http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/animal-testing-faqs/ The Home Office maintain that the 1986 Act is widely viewed as the most rigorous piece of legislation of its type in the world.
The volume of animal experiments carried out in Scotland and the apparent recent growth in this number is an issue which needs to be watched. As you note, over a half a million experiments were conducted in 2007 in Scotland, which was around 15% of all animal experiments in the UK. While this is considerably higher than our population share, Scotland has a particularly strong research base in biological and medical research, which is the purpose for most animal experimentation. Thus our share of animal experiments is very close to Scotland’s 15-20% share of the UK biological and medical research. We need to maintain a strong science base as part of Scotland’s future economic strategy and we must ensure that it is able to conduct vital medical and other research in order to deliver a healthier Scotland. That said it is also essential that we continue to move towards standards which minimise the use of animals in research. I was therefore pleased to note that there are well advanced plans for a new EU Directive on animal research which will impose even tighter restrictions.
Michael Russell, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning
The Scottish Government
Re: Animal experimentation/ Scotland
Dear Mr Russell
Thank you for your reply re: animal experimentation in Scotland forwarded by Dr Andy Bishop. We would be grateful if you could please answer the points below with relation to your statements.
"The Scottish Government position is that we need to ensure that experimentation is tightly controlled and that high standards are maintained, while at the same time allowing vital research to be pursued."
Could you please provide us details of what you claim is vital research and give evidence that the use of animals in this research is necessary?
"The Scottish Government has no direct role in advising on applications for licences under this Act, or in the way the Act is implemented."
Will the Scottish Government add control over licensing for vivisection and power of policy change regarding vivisection to its list of powers that it is currently negotiating with Westminster to be devolved to Scotland?
We have also asked for the Scottish Parliament to call for a public enquiry into the validity and effectiveness of the use of animals in research and for Ministers to support this which has been ignored. As Parliament devoted time and resources to vote on whether to support PR in UK elections, an issue over which the it has no say or jurisdiction over then will you agree to implement a vote on the enquiry we have asked for and to support the conducting of this enquiry?
The Scottish Government have the power to urge Ethics Committies at public institutions such as universities to decline requests for departments to conduct animal experiments and concentrate on non animal methods, the Government also currently distributes large sums of public subsidy to firms and institutions carrying out animal experimentation and could implement a policy of only providing taxpayer funding to non-animal research.
"The Home Office maintain that the 1986 Act is widely viewed as the most rigorous piece of legislation of its type in the world."
We believe this to be an abstract claim as many other parts of the world have no animal welfare regulation for animals used in research whatsoever so the fact that one country legislation is better that anothers does not mean that this legislation is adequate, comprehensive nor properly enforced.
Licenses for animal experiments are also being granted at an unprecedented level. The Home Office states that licenses can only be granted where a "viable alternative" does not exist. Home Office advisers with regards to this are pro-animal research so will be very subjective in deciding what the term "viable" means. There is a huge amount of scientific evidence stating that non-animal methods are more accurate and reliable in these cases and also that not only are in-vivo procedures hindering the discovery of drugs but they are missing serious and deadly side effects which are contributing to drug side effects being such a large cause of death. We would be happy to provide data.
"the Scottish Government is satisfied that all experimentation in Scotland is properly and tightly controlled under this Act. "
We have attached a report by Animal Defenders International exposing conditions at the Inveresk research facility (now Charles River) near Edinburgh. Unfortunately very little information is available regarding non-adherence to regulations within these labs as all data is covered by strict secrecy legislation including the Terrorism Act. The corporations involved seem only too happy to benefit from public cash but far less happy to have their operations held publicly accountable. Judging by evidence available including covert filming and exposure of conditions by employees there is without doubt widespread abuse and a failure by authorties to investigate or prosecute.
Charles River has been cited and convicted on numerous counts of animal cruelty and neglect where access to their facilities has been more open. One conviction was for the roasting to death of live monkeys. We can only wonder what goes on in Charles River Research and other Labs in Scotland where access and scrutiny is almost non-existent.
"While this is considerably higher than our population share, Scotland has a particularly strong research base in biological and medical research, which is the purpose for most animal experimentation."
A huge proportion of animal research in the UK is for the development of such materials as industrial chemicals.Could you also please clarify what you mean by "biological" research?
"We need to maintain a strong science base as part of Scotland’s future economic strategy and we must ensure that it is able to conduct vital medical and other research in order to deliver a healthier Scotland."
The use of animals in research has nothing whatsoever to do with creating a "healthier Scotland". We would appreciate if you could please qualify this claim with evidence?
It is scientific fact that changes in lifestyles and eating habits has by far the largest impact on national health. Promotion of such things as affordable healthy eating initiatives, reductions in alcohol/ tobacco consumption, measures tackling unemployment, debt would all have a far greater positive effect on death rates and illness caused by major conditions such as cancer, heart disease, strokes and mental illness than infecting and dissecting animals.
Could you also please provide evidence of why the transferring of funds to non-animal research would have a detrimental effect on the economy or employment?
We would be delighted to meet with you and any other Ministers or MSP's to provide information and scientific data on how non-animal research is the most effective and accurate method with which to provide cures and treatments for disease. Please let us know if you would like to accept or decline our offer.
With an ever increasing public demand for an end to the use of animals in research we believe it is vital that Parliamentary representatives give an equal amount of time and access to those scientists, medical practitioners and organisations pushing for accurate and reliable non in-vivo research as they do to lobbyists from the animal research industry.
Scotland for Animals