Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh University tops animal research death list

Image caption More mice die in university research than any other animal, accounting for 75% of deaths

Edinburgh University has the highest death toll for animals used in research by British universities, figures show.

The data was compiled from Freedom of Information Act requests by The Tab series of student newspapers.

It said 1.3 million animals, mainly mice, rats, fish and birds, died during British university research last year.

Edinburgh University's toll saw 226,341 animals die, followed by Oxford University with 202,203 and Cambridge at 135,086.

Edinburgh had the highest number due to its College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

The figures showed that 165,050 mice, 51,368 fish, 7,260 rats and 1,824 birds died in research at the college.

Stirling University and Dundee University appeared at number six and number nine on the list of establishments at which most animals died.

Legal grounds

An Edinburgh University spokesman said: "Research using animals has played and continues to play a key role in the advancement of medical, biological and veterinary science.

"It has made a vital contribution towards the understanding, prevention, treatment and cure of a wide range of major health problems, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

"The University of Edinburgh uses animals in research programmes only when their use is justified on scientific, ethical and legal grounds, and when no alternatives are available.

"All such work is strictly regulated and carried out under licences, which are reviewed and approved by the Home Office and are issued only if the potential benefits of the work are likely to outweigh the effects on the animals concerned."

Michelle Thew, CEO of The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: "The details of some (university) research will not only surprise but disgust.

"Tests have involved forcing rodents to inhale diesel fumes to investigate their harmful effects and deliberately inflicting high levels of stress on baby animals to see if having a stressful childhood causes mental health issues in adulthood.

"Many members of the public are under the illusion that all animal experimentation is vital for human health benefits, whereas this couldn't be further from the truth."

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