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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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.