News Column

Scientists Accused of Cruelty to Mice

Feb 14, 2013

Genetically modified mice are subjected to "terrifyingly cruel" and pointless treatment in laboratories, a report has claimed.

Welfare group Animal Aid accused scientists of conducting research programmes that were frenzied and irrational.

Examples of alleged abuse included animals being poisoned with salt, injected with acid, forced to inhale tobacco smoke and given electric shocks.

One widely used procedure called the Forced Swim Test involved placing a GM mouse in an enclosed beaker of water and observing it struggle to avoid drowning.

The aim of the test, used to assess depression-related behaviour, is to see at what point the mouse gives up in despair and stops moving.

Animal Aid's probe follows a rise in the use of GM mice in the last decade. Mice made up 71% of the record 3.79 million animal procedures started in British laboratories in 2011, according to the latest Home Office figures.

In 2011, almost two million procedures were started on mice whose genes had been changed, said the Animal Aid report, entitled Science Corrupted: The Nightmare World of GM Mice.

These included GM mice and mice with harmful mutations induced by poisons or other external means.

The number of procedures performed on mice in general had risen from 1.45 million in 1995 to nearly 2.68 million in 2011. Genetically altered mice accounted for 70% of the 2011 total.

Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler said: "Science Corrupted describes an enterprise that has turned into something frenzied, scientifically irrational and terrifyingly cruel."

Source: (C) 2013 The Herald. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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