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It’s time we end cruel animal testing in the UK for good

(Alamy)

4 min read

I was shocked, actually, in disbelief, when I learnt that we still test on animals in the United Kingdom.

This came to my attention when I discovered the breeding facility MBR Acres. Shockingly, they breed around 2,000 beagles a year in the UK, selling them to private laboratories for testing as well as keeping them in-house to ‘bleed them out’ for the rest of their poor lives. These dogs live in squalor, don’t see the light of day and experience no joy. Unbelievably, this is still legal. As a nation of dog lovers it is amazing how little the public know about this. 

Tests are carried out on dogs for regulatory testing and toxicology studies: so for household products, foodstuff and medicine. Last year a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Human Relevant Science found 92 per cent of drugs and treatments fail in human (clinical) trials despite passing animal testing.  

It’s no good to stand aside and say: ‘Well it has to be this way’ – it doesn’t

For nearly 100 years the Lethal Dose 50 per cent (LD50) test has been used to measure the toxicity of a substance to check if it is safe for people to use. It involves giving increasing doses of the chemical / product to a group of animals until 50 per cent of them die. Animal Aid found that the test is cruel, outdated and scientifically unreliable. The morality of testing on animals is one issue, but these tests are ineffective because the anatomy of animals is very different to that of humans and so they ultimately react differently to the tests. It is vital that the next government takes action to ban this repellent practice of pointless animal torture. To be clear, the test is still used simply because people cannot be bothered to stop it. We can do so much better than this. 

New-approach methodologies (NAMs) are safer and far more effective. Modern science means we no longer have to torture animals but big companies and universities don’t want to make the change. NAMs is a burgeoning industry that will inevitably be huge as more and more countries realise its potential and the pointlessness of animal testing. We need the next government to invest in NAMs to create safer ways of testing that are animal-free, more effective, faster and cost less.  

My conversations with everyone from Animal Aid to LUSH Cosmetics to Chris Packham show that now is the time for change – and public opinion is on our side. My asks are: For next government to instate an immediate ban on testing on dogs; a ban within four years of testing on all animals for household products; a timetable for an ultimate ban on all animal testing, for all reasons; long-term investment in NAMs; and a ban on the LD50 test by 2027. 

I’m taking to the streets next to inform the public on what is happening. I became a pop star thanks to the public voting for me on Pop Idol. I know the public, and I know politics (I studied it at Exeter University), and so I will be touring the UK sharing information and drumming up support for the campaign more than a year before we head into the next general election.
We need to change what is happening. It’s no good to stand aside and say: “Well it has to be this way” – it doesn’t. There’s no reason why the UK shouldn’t be leading the way on this issue. 

If you want to support this campaign please email info@askwillyoung.com. I am leading a round table discussion on animal testing at the Labour Party Conference on 10 October – and after that I might be coming to your constituency! 

 

Will Young, singer-songwriter 

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