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Scientists may be forced to report exactly how much animals suffer in laboratory experiments

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Scientists may be forced to report exactly how much animals suffer in laboratory experiments

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:22 PM on 01st October 2008

Monitored: Scientists will have to describe whether animals suffer mild, moderate or substantial suffering during laboratory experiments

Scientists may for the first time be legally required to describe the level of suffering endured by animals in their laboratories under new proposals unveiled today.

Currently institutions have to say in advance whether planned procedures are likely to inflict "mild, moderate or substantial" suffering on animals.

However the degree of suffering animals actually experience is not reported.

The new system would additionally make it necessary to grade animal suffering as "mild, moderate or substantial" after an experiment is over.

Out of a group of 10 mice, for example, seven may have experienced "mild" suffering, two "moderate" and one "substantial".

Under the new proposals this information would have to be reported to the Home Office.

It would be used to provide national figures on the actual experience of animals in Britain's laboratories.

But there would be no "league table" of distress caused to animals. The figures would be pooled together to provide an overall picture without individual institutions being named.

The retrospective reporting system, modeled on one that has already existed for 10 years in Switzerland, was drawn up by experts on the Animal Procedures Committee, which advises the Home Office.

Government officials will now consider the proposals before deciding whether they should be adopted.

As the recommendations stand, they would not require new legislation.

At present, scientists tend to over-estimate suffering bands when making license applications to conduct experiments. This minimizes the danger of accidentally breaking the law by inflicting more pain on an animal than the license allows.

Many animals selected for "moderate" or "substantial" procedures are actually thought to experience mild suffering. This is not reflected in figures published by the Home Office.

Dr David Smith, chief executive of the Laboratory Animals Science Association (Lasa), who chaired the APC working group which set out the proposals, described the change as a "milestone".

He added: "At the moment the information available in the public domain is very limited.

"We hope that this is going to be a way forward. Transparency is going to be increased, and animal research scientists themselves are extremely pleased. It enables them to be a lot more open in their work."

Colleague Professor Dominic Wells, a scientist from Imperial College London, said: "We record all the animals that enter into a particular procedure but don't recall what happens to the animals during the procedure.

"Now we will make available to the public a clear record of what happens to every single animal that undergoes a procedure.

"That will enable the public to have a better understanding of animal suffering and enable us to be really transparent."

Speaking at the Science Media Centre in London, he defended the decision not to let the public know how animals fare at particular institutions.

"There has unfortunately historically been persistent threats and physical violence and damage to institutions," he said.

"It's currently felt that until that essentially terrorist threat is removed there is a need for security."

Consideration was given to a more complex system with more categories of suffering. But keeping the existing broad brackets meant the proposals could be easily introduced without bringing in new legislation.

The Committee also recommended that a glossary be made available with the published figures explaining what the suffering bands mean.

"Mild" procedures are classified as those which may give rise to "slight or transitory minor adverse effects". Examples included the taking of small blood samples and minor surgery under anesthesia.

"Moderate" procedures include non-lethal toxicity tests and surgery followed by post-operative pain reduction and care.

"Substantial" procedures can result in a "major departure" from an animal's usual state of health or well being. They might include poison tests leading to significant illness or death, major surgery, or genetic engineering to model diseases that seriously compromise an animal's welfare.

Scientists would provide their own assessments, but laboratories could be visited at any time by Home Office inspectors, the experts said.

Dr Smith said even though no individual institutions would be named or shamed, the scientific community as a whole would be motivated to improve the lot of laboratory animals.

"I'm quite certain we will refine our methods so we don't get so many animals undergoing substantial procedures," he said.

Sent: Saturday, October 04, 2008 12:09 AM
Subject: Making animal suffering more transparent.

Making animal suffering more transparent. 2008/10/transparency-and-animal-suffer.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=specrt17_head_Suffering%20revealed
New Scientist. 1 October 2008.
Making animal suffering more transparent.

So, there's a plan afoot in the UK to make the records of pain suffered by animals involved in scientific research more transparent to the public. Hmmm...

In this context, my definition of transparent would include data on the number of animals involved, how much they suffered and for what cause, as well as including which institutions were involved.
According to the scientists assembled to advise the UK government, however, "transparent" means something quite different. The public will have access to information on the numbers of animals that suffered substantial, moderate or mild pain.

At the moment, all scientists are required to do is predict the amount of pain they expect their experiment will inflict, rather than report the individual animal's experience. If the recommendations are acted on, scientists will have to report the actual pain the animals might have suffered after an experiment has been done.

Whilst this will fall short of many animal campaigners' definition of transparent data, realistically it was never going to be any other way. Perhaps the panel oversold the new approach by over-egging its promise of clarity - I wrote down the words "transparent", "clear" or "open" a dozen times in my notes of the 20-minute presentation.

What is good about the recommendation is not that it makes scientists more accountable to the public, but more accountable to each other. Within the research community, where such data is freely available, no one is going to want to repeatedly top the list of substantial pain experiments. Any approach that forces scientists to regularly observe their animals in detail should foster a move to alternative, less painful methods of research.

The recommendations to the Home Office were announced today by a Laboratory Animal Science Association and Animal Procedures Committee working group.

'the best guess for the correlation of adverse reactions in man and animal toxicity data is somewhere between 5% and 25%'

Animal Toxicity Studies: Their Relevance to Man, Lumley and Walker (eds) (Quay, 1989), 57-67

Subject: BPA species difference

BPA species difference

Lengthy article but it explains excellently the reasons why this component was permitted and the believed consequences. Animal experiments and serious illness link up yet again.
Zwire. 27 September 2008.
Who does the FDA protect?
Emily Kesten , Shenanigans

We're lab rats.
Lab rats for the Food and Drug Administration and the chemical, food and drug industries that they serve. At least, it's hard not to come to this conclusion when studies continually reveal adverse effects from products that the FDA claims are safe.

The aspartame controversy has been going on since its inclusion in our food supply since 1981. Originally, Jere E. Goyan, then head of the FDA, refused to approve the manmade chemical because of increased brain leisons, tumors and lymphoma in rats. On his first day in office, President Ronald Reagan removed Goyan. More than that, investigations have suggested that the early studies funded by G.D. Searle & Company (of which Donald Rumsfeld was CEO at the time) doctored the results by replacing dead rats with new ones. A 2007 study by the Ramazzini Foundation had toxicology and epidemiology experts and the nonprofit Center for Sci-ence in the Public Interest begging the FDA to take another look at aspartame, which can be found in more than just Coke and Pepsi and sugar-free gum. That study, along with others not funded by the companies that make aspartame, found increases in lymphoma, leukemia and breast cancers in rats or correlations between cancer rates and individuals' con-sumption. It also begged the question of how the chemical affects people exposed to it at a much younger age.

The FDA said thanks but no thanks. Much like how they responded to studies finding that artificial food coloring and additives can cause ADHD characteristics in children. The latest headliner has involved plastic bottles with bisphenol A. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in mid-September and involved adults. Scientists linked higher levels of bisphenol A in people to higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities. The FDA said it would look into it, but that it felt a "safe" dose was 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, and that we should be just dandy. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and American Plastics Council nodded approvingly at the FDA, of course.

But there's more to the BPA story. There's breast cancer. BPA acts like a hormone, specifically, estrogen. And it only takes a minute, trace amount, or parts per billion 0.0000000705 ounces (I triple-checked those 0s). Retha Newbold, Ph.D., head of developmental endocrinology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said that BPA acts like an evil twin of estrogen and interacts with proteins and DNA as well as switch on and off genes under that hormone's control.

If a fetus receives too much estrogen during fetal development, it creates abnormally developed breast tissue and causes oversensitivity to the hormone. Animal studies, according to Self magazine's October issue, show that the offspring of pregnant mice exposed to "extremely" low doses of BPA develop preancerous cells and tumors in their mammary glands at the human equivalent age of early 20s. In other words, they are primed for cancer that could become untreatable.

The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco discovered that noncancerous breast cells in women that were exposed to a "safe" dose of BPA suddenly had healthy cells that behaved abnormally - like aggressive cancer cells. The senior scientist behind the study, Shanaz H. Dairkee, Ph.D., said he cannot say it is BPA alone, but there was cause and effect.

If you want to avoid BPA and the risk, you have to quit more than plastic bottles. Between 6 to 7 million pounds of the chemical is produced each year in food packaging. That 0.0000000705 ounce amount leaches from cans into your food. The Environmental Working Group tested 97 canned items from three states in 2007 and discovered that 57 percent of food items were contaminated. The EWG study of canned goods found that a "mere one to three servings could expose a woman or child to the doses of BPA that caused serious adverse effects in animals."

That's a lot of money for those companies - not to mention pharmaceutical companies producing cancer drugs. It's FDA inaction (or implementation) like this that makes one believe that the FDA, as the chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences told Self, "The system doesn't protect public health. It protects products."

"Tests on animals have led to around 100 drugs being thought potentially useful for stroke; not one has proved effective in humans. You don't need to be a balaclava-wearing animal rights activist to question the value of animal studies in this area of medical research."

TheFirstPost. 25 January 2007.

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