Industry uses more animals for testing

Nearly half a million animals were used for experiments last year Keystone

The Swiss authorities recorded a 3.6 per cent increase in the number of experiments with animals last year.

This content was published on June 28, 2005 - 17:09

Animal-welfare groups have denounced a trend towards more experiments with severe side effects.

Some 492,456 animals – mostly rodents, including mice, rats and hamsters - were used for experiments last year, according to a report by the Federal Veterinary Office.

The 3.6 per cent increase compared with the previous year was in line with the situation in other European countries, officials said on Tuesday.

It is the third increase in four years, but the Veterinary Office pointed out that the figures are 75 per cent below those of 1983.

Most of the animals were used by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries; about a third of the experiments which are subject to authorisation were conducted at universities and hospitals.

Animal testing is part of the development and quality control for new drugs and vaccinations, a statement said.

However, no animals were used to produce cosmetic products in 2004.

The number of experiments with severe side effects – causing intense pain and suffering to the tested animal – went up by nearly one per cent.

The authorities also recorded a 25 per cent surge in the number of experiments which need no official approval. In most cases the animals were killed to use their organs or tissue or in tests on poultry feed.

Animal rights

The country’s main animal-welfare group, Swiss Animal Protection (SAP), condemned the increasing number of cases of animal testing.

The organisation said the figures proved that politicians were given false information during a recent debate in parliament about animal rights.

It blamed partly research on genetic engineering for a rise in the number of experiments with severe side effects.

The group also expressed concern that the trend would continue in the future because of European Union guidelines calling for animal testing of chemical substances.

Earlier this month, the Swiss House of Representatives voted in favour of tightening the existing animal-rights legislation but the other parliamentary chamber has still to approve the proposals.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Animal testing 2004:
492,456 animals used for experiments (187,968 for experiments not subject to official approval)
Two thirds for industrial purposes
One third at universities and hospitals
90% of animals experimented on were rodents, including mice, rats and hamsters
10% fish, rabbits, pets, monkeys, poultry and amphibians

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