Ahead of World Day for Laboratory Animals on 24 April, more than 60 academics, scientists, institutions, companies, organisations and celebrities have signed up to a new Declaration for Advanced Science.
Spearheaded by Animal Defenders International (ADI), signatories – including celebrities Joanna Lumley, James Cromwell, Mena Suvari, Chris Packham, Gemma Atkinson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jenny Seagrove and Brian Blessed pledge to support measures accelerating the “move away from animal models towards more human-relevant research methods”.
Other signatories to the initiative include Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Marc Bekoff; Professor of Pharmaceutical Analysis Laura Waters; Consultant Haematologist Dr Shireen Kassam; Microbiologist Dr Warren Casey; Senior Cell and Molecular Biologist Dr Pelin L Candarlioglu; Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics Andrew Knight; and Emerita Professor of Anthropology Barbara King.
The full and current list of Declaration signatories can be viewed here.
Joanna Lumley: “I wholeheartedly support the efforts of Animal Defenders International in encouraging a move away from misleading animal tests. With a growing number of humane, modern methods available, governments and industry must act and adopt their use.”
James Cromwell: “It’s time to leave animal tests – and the needless suffering they involve – in the past, where they belong. I support Animal Defenders International and a move toward methods of research that are kinder and far more relevant to humans, and I hope others will too.”
Mena Suvari: “As educated human beings, we know the truth about animal tests and the suffering they involve. We also know about viable alternatives that we should be adopting. I support Animal Defenders International in this move toward these kinder methods.”
Supporting the Declaration and its aim, Sir Mike Penning MP has tabled Early Day Motion 2228, which calls on the UK Government to become a leader in the development of innovative non-animal science.
Due to species differences, animals respond differently to substances such as drugs, and are therefore an unreliable way to predict effects in humans. Not naturally occurring, human diseases in laboratory animals need to be artificially created and are therefore different from the human condition they attempt to mimic. It should not be surprising therefore that more than 90% of drugs that prove promising in animal trials fail in human trials, either due to lack of effectiveness, or safety concerns, and that around 50% of drugs being taken by the wider public are later withdrawn from the market.
Instead of these misleading animal tests, ADI urges governments and regulators to drive research towards modern methods that benefit people. These include using databases, human tissue culture, sophisticated analytical techniques, organ-on-a chip models, microdosing, computer simulations and modelling, and human tissue and 3D cell cultures.
ADI President Jan Creamer said: “For the benefit of science, human health and animal welfare, we need to move away from the misleading use of animals in research and towards advanced and more relevant alternatives.”
Latest figures show 3.7 million animals are used in British laboratories, with an additional 1.8 million animals bred and killed because they were only used for breeding, were the “wrong” sex for the experiment, were used just for tissues, or “necessary surplus resulting from the breeding of animals to ensure adequate supply”. In the US, although more than 792,000 are officially used, this figure excludes mice and rats, estimated to account for 95% of all experiments and tens of millions of animals. Worldwide, an estimated 115+ million animals are used for scientific purposes.