committee and the Home Secretary’s advisory body,
and are no substitute fordetailed information about particular experiments.
The Home Office encourages (but does not require) licence applicants to prepare ashort abstract (summary) of their application; these are then published under theHome Office’s FOIA publication scheme. These, too, are no substitute for detailedinformation. They often read like PR documents, designed to persuade the public of the value of the research in question, and playing down animal suffering. TheInformation Tribunal, in a case brought by the BUAV (the abstracts case), describedfive abstracts it was able to compare with the licences they were purporting tosummarise as ‘positive spin’, with little said about what was to happen to theanimals.
Successive opinion polls show that, unsurprisingly, it is the suffering of theanimals with which the public is most concerned.
Some animal research is published, but only a minority. Even when it is, researchersgenerally give no more information about what the animals experienced than isstrictly necessary to understand the research. Little information is given aboutconsideration given to the use of non-animal alternatives (a statutory requirement).
The litmus test for any transparency regime is whether it is able to shed light on areas of public policy which are controversial. Animal experiments remain acutely controversial,with public opinion divided and shifting according to the latest aspect to hit the headlines.Controversy extends to scientific efficacy as well as to ethical considerations and thereare therefore vital human health issues at stake. Public surveys confirm that the public,irrespective of their views about animal experiments, want to have more information. Forexample, a survey by YouGov in 2009 on behalf of the BUAV in the UK, France,Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Italy
asked whether the then proposed newEU directive on animal experiments should require that all information about animalexperiments be publicly available, except information which is confidential andinformation which would identify researchers or where they work. 80% of respondentsthought it should.
The Animal Procedures Committee
EA/2007/0059: see paragraph 8
Section 5(5) ASPA
Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th February - 4th March 2009