The University of Edinburgh used more animals in scientific testing than any other UK university in 2013, according to information obtained by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).
Edinburgh used 241,865 animals in scientific experiments, followed by Oxford University (190,196), University College London (181,295), Cambridge University (169,353), King’s College London (132,885), and Imperial College London (130,358).
The figures were released in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the BUAV.
Dr Katy Taylor, head of science at the BUAV, told The Student: “In one study recently published from Edinburgh, young rats were subjected to a series of cruel tests to investigate the effects of stress on development.
One month old rats were subjected to repeated electric shocks, restrained inside small plastic tubes and forced to swim in tanks of water with no escape or placed on high, open platforms.
“Two months later their reaction to being subjected to electric shocks or being forced to swim in a tank of water until they found a hidden platform was measured.
At the end of the experiment, all of the rats were killed in a carbon dioxide filled chamber.”
“We believe that if you want to understand the causes and consequences of mental health issues in humans you should study humans.
A spokesperson for the University responded: “[r]esearch 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 psychiatric disorders.
“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.”
“The University is actively involved in the development of alternative approaches that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research.”
According to Wendy Jarrett from Understanding Animal Research, the animals tested at Edinburgh University “could not have been used if there was an alternative method available.”
Edinburgh is a leading research university in the UK and a major recipient of Medical Research Council (MRC) funding. Frances Rawle of the MRC linked this to animal testing:
“The universities highlighted by BUAV as the biggest animal users (including Edinburgh) are all the leading medical research universities in the UK and the biggest recipients of MRC funding so we do not find this at all surprising.”
Despite the release of information by the BUAV, the University of Edinburgh has not announced any plans to abolish animal testing on campus.