Animal testing in Europe - Statistics & Facts

The use of animals as test subjects in medical and scientific research is deeply controversial, yet in many areas of the world, animals continue to be used as scientific material. The use of animals in medical research has been beneficial to the advancement and understanding of human medicine, physiology and pharmacology. However, this knowledge comes at a price to animal life.


As a society the benefits associated with developing medical understanding are unquestionable and in many ways we justify the use of animals as research tools because there is no alternative available. The United Kingdom has some of the strictest laws when it comes to animal testing, with research only being conducted in a licensed establishment and with a permit awarded only after the process has been conducted through an ethical review board.

The majority of scientific research takes place at universities and medical schools, followed by commercial organisations. Public opinion on animal research organisations depicts them as secretive, well-regulated and in place to carry out work essential for human health. The UK Government is currently working to bring awareness to the use of animals in scientific research, with the aim of reducing, replacing and refining the use of animals in research procedures.

Millions of animals are used in research and testing worldwide, with the USA, China and the European Union using the most animals for research purposes, accumulating to an estimated 47.5 million animals. Rodents including rats and mice are the class of animal most likely to be used in research for several reasons, such as their convenience in size, reproductive ability, breeding costs, and their physiology closely resembles that of humans. For this reason, individuals think it’s acceptable to use rodents for medical research to benefit people and for animal health.

Research conducted on animals varies from research on the nervous system to immunology and oncology. The majority of tests conducted are considered to be mild or moderate in how severe they are on animals. Although many individuals believe in the benefits of testing on animals where no alternative exists, we’re less likely to agree to conducting non-necessary/repetitive experiments on animals. In fact, cosmetic testing is banned in the European Union as a result of the unnecessary harm it causes to animals. Following the EU Regulation 1223/2009 on cosmetics, products tested on animals are not permitted for sale within the EU.

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Animal testing in the United Kingdom - Important statistics

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