The Sunday Telegraph

Patel to phase out animal tests

- By Helena Horton

ANIMAL testing could be phased out with scientists told to carry out experiment­s on lab-grown organs instead, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is launching a review to task officials to find ways to end the use of animals in the developmen­t of medicines.

Plans include investing in technologi­es such as testing on lab-grown organs and cells, and limiting the reasons for which creatures can be experiment­ed on.

Ms Patel met with Lord Goldsmith, the animal welfare minister, after being shocked by a video of a facility where beagles are bred to be tested on.

Lord Goldsmith, who has spent his time in post drawing up laws to ban foie gras and fur imports as well as keeping exotic animals as pets, is understood to be pushing for the ban.

Animal testing is under the remit of the Home Office, rather than the Department for Environmen­t, Food and Rural Affairs, because of the high security involved in maintainin­g the test sites and protecting them from animal rights activists. Last year, 2.88 million

scientific procedures were completed on animals, with more than 4,000 tests conducted on beagles. Last month videos emerged of beagles in a facility in Wyton, Cambridges­hire. The centre breeds puppies for testing, and they are exported to labs across the country.

Over the past week, peaceful protesters have set up camp outside the testing plant, many bringing their own pet beagles as a form of protest.

In the footage, whimpering puppies are shown being herded by the scruff of their necks into crates, in which they are transporte­d for experiment­ation.

Officials at the breeding facility insisted the puppies are “happy and comfortabl­e” and live cruelty-free lives.

However, the footage has resulted in discussion­s in Government about how quickly animal testing can be phased out. Ministeria­l sources said the footage was “awful” and “grim”.

A Government spokesman said that the UK was “determined to replace the use of animals in science”. They added: “Our statistics show the lowest number of procedures involving animals since 2004, with the number of procedures decreasing by 15 per cent on last year.”

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