Scottish universities and medical schools experimented on 502,460 animals in 2013, according to the Minister of State (Home Office), Norman Baker.
The Liberal Democrats MP for Lewes revealed the figures in response to a parliamentary question from Graeme Morrice, Labour MP for Livingston, who has called for a reduction in experiments.
In a separate press release, Morrice said: “Although there has been a slight reduction, it is disappointing that universities in Scotland are still using so many animals in outdated tests.
“Many of my constituents share my concerns about these high numbers which is why I am joining the NAVS in calling for more progress to be made towards phasing out these unreliable tests.”
In total, 619,798 animals were experimented on last year in Scotland. Universities and medical schools accounted for 79.6 per cent of the experiments, with the remainder performed by government departments, other public bodies, and commercial organisations.
The experiments were carried out on a variety of animals, including mice (406,502), fish (157,871), rats (29,693), birds (17,224), sheep (6,873), and dogs (936).
The release of figures for Scotland follows on the heels of the publication of UK-wide statistics, which recorded 4.12 million animal experiments carried out last year in Britain, the highest on modern record.
Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 prevents disclosure to the public of information concerning animal experimentation. PETA and animal rights groups have dubbed the Act the “secrecy clause” and criticised the protection it extends to animal experimenters.
In a press release, Jan Creamer, President of the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), called the figures “shocking”.
“These experiments are mainly curiosity-driven, and cause a great deal of suffering to the animals. We must urgently address the lack of scientific and public accountability by repealing the Section 24 secrecy clause”, she added.
54 per cent of the experiments were carried out on genetically modified animals. 3.5 per cent of the animals used had a harmful genetic defect.
Creamer said, “We are deeply concerned that genetic modification of animals is being allowed to simply increase year on year. NAVS investigations have revealed a great deal of suffering is caused by breeding GM animals.
“’Donors’ and ‘parents’ are subjected to repeated surgeries, egg collection, implantation and repeated blood and tissue testing.
“Their babies can suffer severe deformities, painful swellings, fused lungs and premature death.”
The Government is conducting a review of Section 24 of the Animals Act 1986, and while they are expected to repeal it, it will likely be replaced with substitute legislation. NAVS fears this could mirror “draconian” laws in the US that punish whistleblowing.