The Medical Research Council plan to close GM mouse lab

Plans to close Harwell Institute’s Mouse Genetics Unit in Oxford are welcomed by The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) and vegans nationwide


The Medical Research Council is planning to close Harwell’s GM mouse lab. This is reported to result from “the changing scientific landscape”, and follows the recent closure of Wellcome Sanger Institute’s animal research facility near Cambridge.


The decision was stated by its director as “The best way to continue to deliver the science and make the discoveries that impact on human health”.


Despite claiming on their website to be “Proactively committed to implementing” the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement of animal use) Harwell director, Professor Steve Brown, only managed to name one correctly during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday.


‘Moving towards better science’


Following the news, NAVS President Jan Creamer says: “Growing scientific evidence shows that advanced human-relevant methods are more reliable than using animals. We hope therefore that these plans signal a concerted shift by research institutions to move away from misleading animal tests and towards better modern science.”


Intended to be abnormal


In British laboratories like Harwell, more than two-thirds (2.6 million) of the 3.7 million animal tests are for the creation of animals with genetic modifications.


The practice of genetic modification in laboratories is horrific. GM animals are bred with a particular trait, so that they can be used to ‘model’ human conditions. They are bred with the cruel intention of being abnormal to natural-bred individuals.


When given a deliberate genetic defect, extended animal suffering can arise from egg collection, repeated surgeries, implantation, repeated blood and tissue testing, and the intended and unintended, often insufferable mutations exhibited.


On top of this, only 3-5 per cent of offspring are even born exhibiting a desired genetic defect, resulting in huge numbers of ‘useless’ animals being killed and discarded.


The public are waking up


But times are changing. The public is becoming increasingly against animal experiments and is becoming more supportive of alternative methods.


Last month, an Ipsos MORI report on public attitudes to animal research showed:


  • An increasing interest in alternatives to the use of animals in research, from 55 per cent to 60 per cent.
  • A declining belief that the use of animals for medical research is important to human health, from 46 per cent to 41 per cent.
  • 27 per cent think no animal should be used in medical research to benefit people, up from 23 per cent.
  • 41 per cent associate animal research organisations with secrecy.


Animal testing has long been shrouded in secrecy, protected by a ‘secrecy clause’ – Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.


NAVS has been calling for the removal of this protection, as well as for the licence applications submitted by animal researchers to be made public before their experiments take place.


However, five years after consulting the public on Section 24, NAVS is still waiting for the UK Government to release its findings.


Here’s hoping that with this latest news and findings, that more and more scientists and laboratories commit to bring cruel animal tests to an end.




The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.