Animal Testing In Ireland: Reducing or Stagnant?

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Across the world animals are killed each year for scientific research purposes and The Republic of Ireland is no exception, in fact from 64,378 animals used in 2007 there was a staggering increase to 249,206 in 2009, with the numbers remaining at or above 200,000 until 2019. Although, the EU Directive to protect animals used for scientific purposes was implemented in Ireland in 2013 as well as the 3Rs (replacement, refinement, and reduction) plan introduced by the Health Products Regulation Authority (HPRA) there has been no real reduction in the animals used as it is still relatively in high use.

The latest report from Health Product Regulatory Authority (HPRA) showed that mice and rats were the most commonly used in experiments. This was followed by guinea pigs, rabbits, and cats. Other animals used included dogs, pigs, goats, sheep, and rabbits. Birds and fish are also used for specific experiments. Mice make up 68% of animals used for testing, while rats make up 13% of the total number of animals used for testing. Both mice and rats are also the most commonly used for organ extraction. The mouse genome was decoded a few years ago and is relatively simple to manipulate from a technical standpoint, which makes mice the essential test subjects as they offer researchers insight into the genetic foundations of life processes and diseases. Tests and experiments on fish have also increased significantly over the years (currently at 9.8%) since the zebrafish genome was decoded. Other species are used to some extent.

In recent years animal rights groups have criticized Irish universities for using animals in medical tests. Trinity College Dublin bought nearly 110,000 live animals between 2012 and 2016, for use in biomedical research. Previously the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society, which campaigns against animal testing, has called for stricter regulation around the area from Government. Others were used in “regulatory and other routine production purposes” which it states is a requirement under EU law to ensure the safety, quality, and potency of medicine. 8,961 genetically modified animals were used in procedures, which represent 4% of all animals used.

Below is a chart showing the number of animals used from 2014-2018.

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