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Cruelty Free International welcomes Labour Party pledge to phase out animal testing

Cruelty Free International

5 min read Partner content

NGO calls for all parties to commit to end of animal testing

Animal protection NGO Cruelty Free International welcomes The Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to phase out animal testing – and calls on all other parties standing in the 2024 General Election to clarify their commitment to ending the suffering and death of animals in laboratories in Great Britain. 

The manifesto states that Labour will “partner with scientists, industry, and civil society as we work towards the phasing out of animal testing”. If elected, the party must develop a roadmap with clear targets, milestones and action to phase out the use of all animals in experiments, led by a new minister to co-ordinate plans across all departments. 

Home Office statistics show that there were over 2.76 million uses of animals in laboratories in Great Britain in 20221. Ten per cent of those are tests required by regulators to assess the safety or effectiveness of chemicals, medicines and other products. 

Of the remaining uses of animals in British laboratories in 2022, 45% were in the creation and breeding of genetically altered animals; and a further 29% in basic, curiosity-driven research. Many of these tests, which aren’t required by the regulator and are essentially voluntary, could be removed without very little impact. This should be one of the first areas to be addressed in a comprehensive government-led plan to phase out testing on animals. Many other animal tests could be ended immediately, as they are conducted despite already having approved non-animal alternatives available. 

In February, the government committed to increased funding for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (3Rs), from £10 million to £20 million in 2024-25, and to create plans to reduce the number of animals used in scientific procedures. Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, also committed to publishing plans this summer “to accelerate the development, validation and uptake of technologies and methods to reduce the reliance of the use of animals in science”2, to increase fees paid by organisations who apply to conduct animal testing, and to review the duration of the licenses issued to those organisations down from the current five-year average.  

Previously, in 2023, the then Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, also stated that “the government is seeking to improve safety by the use of new non-animal science and technology”3. None of this is reflected in the 2024 Conservative Party manifesto. 

The Liberal Democrat 2024 manifesto promised a “comprehensive new Animal Welfare Bill to ensure the highest standards possible". The Green Party manifesto also proposed “a new organisation protecting animals”, but neither made any specific mention of animal testing. 

Cruelty Free International has launched its ‘Pledge Cruelty Free’ campaign – which can be signed on the Cruelty Free International website4 – allowing members of the public to ask all Parliamentary candidates in their constituency to make a commitment to put the 1998 ban on testing cosmetics on animals, covering ingredients used either primarily or exclusively in cosmetics, into law; make our homes safer by modernising the system for testing the chemicals that go into the products we use every day, such as food, clothes, household cleaning, furniture, electronic goods, paints and dyes, and removing animals from those tests; and ask that the government create a plan to phase-out animal testing forever, with a minister dedicated to delivering this target across all government departments. 

The campaign is a direct response to the government’s decision5, revealed in May 2023, to secretly abandon the UK’s 1998 ban on animal testing for cosmetics. This information came to light as part of Cruelty Free International’s legal challenge to the Home Office on the UK’s policy on animal testing. 

Since this revelation, and following legal pressure exerted by Cruelty Free International, the government has partially reinstated the cosmetics testing ban, to include ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics but, as this only covers approximately 20% of the total ingredients used in cosmetics, that is not enough. 

Dylan Underhill, Head of Public Affairs, Cruelty Free International, said: “This pledge from the Labour Party is most welcome, and reflects both the views of the public and the strength of feeling that there is on this issue. Animal testing is simply not good science yet inexplicably continues as the default method for testing the safety of products. We know that, as a country, we can do so much better in our protection of the millions of animals that suffer and die in laboratories every year. 

“However, whilst any ambition to drive down the number of animals used in scientific testing is long overdue, Labour must develop a roadmap with clear targets and milestones to phase out the use of all animals in experiments. A greater increase in funding, in line with the levels for similar ground-breaking technologies in the UK, needs to be accompanied by innovative incentives to encourage scientists and industry to move away from the current use of animals. Non-animal testing methods, in many cases, have already proven themselves to be faster, cheaper and more accurate than animal testing. 

“Animal testing touches our lives in many ways that most of us don’t appreciate, from cosmetics and household products to clothes, furniture, plastics, electronic and white goods, paints, dyes, and food – all of these things can be associated with animal testing on their way to our homes. Whichever party forms the next government, we need them to take bold steps forward – without this, we will be condemned to a never-ending cycle of small reductions rather than the transformative step forward which is needed to meet the aspirations of the public.” 



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