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Top marks for Speaking of Research website

The industry magazine Lab Animal occasionally reviews websites applicable to it’s readers. Earlier this year, they reviewed the Speaking of Research website. The article does a good job of relaying the history behind how Speaking of Research began and some background on the people involved. They also note that SR does a lot of reporting on situations with animal extremists in Europe and North America.

The reviewer goes through each section of the website giving their readership the basic idea behind each of the sections and points out a few of the more interesting items beyond just news items, including games, quizzes and an article on Gorgon aliens.

In reviewing our “AR Undone” section (now called “Animal Rights Pseudoscience”), which responds to 19 common myths used by animal rights groups, the reviewer described SR’s responses as “authoritative, heavily references and, in some cases, linked to other websites and documents.”

“This is an excellent, informative site … It’s a must read for any animal researcher.”

The Speaking of Research website is then graded on content, appearance and usability, receiving the maximum of five out of five paws in each category.

Speaking of Research website rating

Read the full article

We are very pleased to have received such high marks from Lab Animal and truly appreciate the review.

Pamela

Animal Experiments in the UK: Government releases 2013 statistics

Every year the UK Home Office publishes statistics showing the number of procedures carried out on animals covered by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986; this covers all vertebrate species. Overall, the number of animals used in research fell slightly from 4.03 to 4.01 million (0.4% fall). The total number of procedures was slightly higher, at 4.12 million, as some animals were used for more than one procedure (a 0.3% rise from 2012).

animal testing statistics uk 2013

Overall, 98% of animals used in scientific experiments were mice, rats, birds or fish, while dogs, cats and primates (which are offered special protections under UK law) combined, remain under 0.2% of the total.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The number of non-human primates rose 11% from the previous year, however a sharp decline in 2011 means primate use remains lower than for any year prior to 2011. Note that the graph above uses procedures, not numbers of primates (as they were easier to collate). In 2013 the number of primates used was 2,202, up slightly from 2,186 the year before.

A ban on cosmetic testing on animals (1998) and of using great apes (gorillas, orang-utans and chimpanzees) in research (1986) meant both had 0 procedures in 2013. Similarly, efforts to phase out tests on household products meant that no animals were used for this purpose for the third year running.

Animal rights groups have worked hard to find things to be upset about in the stats. Michelle Thew of the BUAV was quoted in the BBC saying:

“The government has now failed for a third year on its 2010 post-election pledge to work to reduce the number of animals used in research.”

Which is a curious way of describing a small drop in the number of animals used. The BUAV could also be found to be cherry picking the statistics on Twitter. In a set of tweeted pictures they spoke of the 7% rise in primate procedures (whereas numbers of primates rose only 1%), then switched to describing an 11% rise in the number of dogs used, neglecting to mention that procedures on dogs had fallen 1.3%.

For more statistics, check our UK stats page (now updated)

Speaking of Research

Find more on the stats here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statistics-of-scientific-procedures-on-living-animals-great-britain-2013

Israel provides animal research statistics for 2013

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, has reported on the 2013 animal testing statistics, which were recently released by the Health Ministry’s Council for Experimentation of Animals.

The total numbers rose 6% to 299,144 animals, of which 86% were mice or rats. This total is still much lower than the peak of over 340,000 animals were used in 2007. Rodent use has increased since 2010, from 81% of the total up to 86%, with an increase in genetically modified rodents likely to be influencing this rise.

Animals used in research in Israel 2010-13

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Non-rodent species have declined since 2010, with dogs and cats falling to 0, and primate use falling by almost a third, from 33 down to 25.

Dogs cats monkeys used in Israel

Most research, 80%, is conducted at universities and research institutes, while only 10% were carried out by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Cosmetic testing is illegal in Israel, as is the sale and import of cosmetics and cleaning materials tested on animals.

Like the UK, and several other EU countries (e.g. Denmark, Germany, Switzerland), the Israeli Government publishes a breakdown, by species, of the number of animals involved in experiments every year. This proactive publication of the stats is a step in the right direction for openness in animal research.

On July 10th 2014 (Thursday), the UK Home Office will publish the 2013 statistics for animal research in England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland publishes it statistics separately, though its numbers are very small by comparison). We will provide a detailed post on this on Thursday as we have in previous years.

Speaking of Research

Israeli data from:
2013 – Ido Efrati, Haaretz, Israeli science used 6% more animals in testing last year
2012 – Dan Even, Haaretz, Number of animal experiments up for first time since 2008
2011 – Dan Even, Haaretz, Only 3 percent of animals survive lab experiments
2010 – Ilan Lior, Haaretz, Study shows steady decline in use of animals for lab testing in Israel

How you can support understanding of animal research in thirty seconds

In February 2013 we wrote a post called “The Science of Linking”, which looked at how other organisations’ website linking to pages like Speaking of Research could have an impact on its ranking in Google searches.

The efforts of our followers paid up, with Speaking of Research’s PageRank (a key factor in Google search result order) rising from 6 to 7. This puts us equal to HSUS, and above both PETA (who dropped from 7 to 6 last year) and PCRM.

This video may help explain how some of these factors, including PageRank, influence search results.

Despite early success, we can continue to improve. Ideally, we need to be a first page search result for terms such as “animal research” and “animal testing”, and you can help us do that. Google considers links from .edu and .gov websites to be of greater value than those from less established websites (thus why SR outranks PETA despite having far few incoming links). So what could you do in thirty seconds?

We need you to send an email to your department website editor (and convince friends in other life science departments to do likewise) to ask them to add links to pro-research organisations on an appropriate page. Many of you will have direct control over sections of your department’s page, so please take a few seconds to add the middle section of the letter below.

Dear Webmaster

Please can you add the following paragraph to our departmental website, on our page about animal research here: <insert url>

For more information about the role of animals in research we recommend the following resources:
http://www.speakingofresearch.com – Speaking of Research
http://www.amprogress.org – Americans for Medical Progress
http://www.fbresearch.org – Foundation for Biomedical Research
http://www.animalresearch.info – Animal Research Information

Kind Regards

<insert name>

You may also wish to link to specific resources, for example our briefing notes on animal research in the US or Canada:

So you’re now twenty-five seconds down and still have a spare 5 seconds to help research just a little bit more. Well, at the bottom of this post, like every post there is a box that looks like this:

sharing speaking of research

This one comes from our successful post about misused pictures of cats

So please share this post, and others on this website, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WordPress, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon and tumblr. Your efforts can make all the difference in our efforts to improve and widen our communication about animals in research.

Speaking of Research

Addendum:

We’d like to thank all of the organizations which do link to Speaking of Research. To name a few of them, The Wake Forest School of Medicine, The University of British Colombia and The Californian National Primate Research Centre at UC Davis.

 

“Animal Rights …Or Wrongs?” – July 1, 2014

Next Tuesday, July 1st. at 8:00pm ET, Nickelodeon’s “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee” will air a program titled “Animal Rights…Or Wrongs?” It promises to be a balanced look at both sides of the use of animals in research. “Nick News” has been on the air for 22 years and is recognized for discussing social, political, and economic issues important to children, teenagers, and adults.

On the “pro” side of the discussion will be Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, Director for the Center for Comparative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and AALAS Vice President. Dr. Buckmaster has been a longtime advocate for the responsible use of animals in research and has frequently spoken about the need for those in laboratory animal science community to speak out about what we do and why we do it. She has frequently given her talk, “Stop Hiding…and Change the World” at various meetings and conferences. In addition to Dr. Buckmaster, “Nick News” will be presenting the story of Liviya Anderson  whose life was saved by animal research when she developed aplastic anemia.

animal rights or wrongs

On the “con” side will be Dr. Aysha Akhtar, a board certified neurologist currently working for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats with the FDA and is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (unaffiliated with Oxford University). She is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post arguing against the use of animals in research. Dr. Akhtar has been covered by Speaking of Research in the past here and here. At this time there is no further information available regarding who else may be a part of the “con” side.

“Nick News” states its aim is to explore both sides of the story. They will talk to children who have opinions on both sides from those actively working to end all animal research to those like Liviya who are alive today because of it.

In addition to the interviews with experts and children, Baylor College of Medicine allowed the “Nick News” crew to film animal in the vivarium including an experiment with a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease performing a memory task in the lab.

Assuming that this segment will indeed be an unbiased look at both sides of the story, it will be interesting to see how children respond to the same tough question we all grapple with routinely: If we stop using animal models in research, then what?

We hope this program indeed provides an unbiased look at the issues surrounding the use of animals in research. It’s one thing to argue in the abstract about what, in a perfect world, should or shouldn’t happen. It’s another thing altogether to look a patient like Liviya, or any number of others suffering from debilitating diseases, and essentially say they aren’t worth saving. Although those participating in the program will not likely come face-to-face with real patients or their families in this segment, hopefully those watching will see there are potentially real consequences for real people should animal research be discontinued. Additionally we hope the program doesn’t allow any misrepresentations of the science to go unchallenged or the use of images which don’t accurately represent current research.

Index of animal rights groups/activists

Ever needed more information about an animal rights groups or individual? Well we’ve produced a page specifically to index some of the more influential or extreme individuals and groups in the US and UK (hopefully we can expand this to other countries too).

Speaking of Research has written an awful lot of information about animal rights groups over the past 6 years, so this index should help you find some of the main posts we have about some of the main groups involved. For each group/individual we have strived to choose 2-3 SR posts which best describe some of their activities. See below for an extract.

animal rights groups

Click this image to go to see more

In order to help people navigate the hundreds and hundreds of posts on Speaking of Research, we will be creating more indexes like this to help people find older posts animal disease models and philosophical discussion.

Pro-Test Italia Marching for Science

On June 14, 2014, Pro-Test Italia will hold a second rally in Milan to support the use of animals in medical research. See our event on Facebook.

Everyday, Italy continues down a psuedoscientific path. Stamina method, vaccines-causing-autism and exotic diet cures against cancer, are all promoted by national media and TV programmes like “Le lene”. This anti-scientific agenda has resulted in stringent rules placed on animal research by the Government.

What is at stake is the safety of a country that allows people to use dangerous and non-scientific methods in our hospitals, with our money. What is at stake is the future of research because more and more young people, who specialise in biomedicine will be forced to emmigrate if they wish to further their career. What is at stake is also the economy of a country, because research produces patents and jobs.Italy has to decide if it wants to compete with Germany, United Kingdom and USA on the field of innovation, or to compete with less developed countries for low quality products, adapting itself to their work standard.

We risk losing an important parts of Italian economy like the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors, that possess a high level of innovation, if politicians persist in writing a long term scientific strategy based on the whims of small groups of fanatics.

Pro-Test Italia rally success

Pro-Test Italia held a successful rally in Milan in June 2013

Pro-Test Italia organized this rally to demand that the Italian government listen to the scientific community when creating laws that will affect heir research. We demand they reconsider restrictions added by Italy to the EU legislation 2010/63; restrictions that the EU itself says are illegal and will result in massive fines. We demand the government increase funding for research, because only by investing in our future can we save Italy from its dire economic crisis. We demand better protection from the growing threat posed by animal rights extremism.

Students, researchers and veterinaries should being their white coat, there will be stands for fund raising and for distributing informative leaflets.
For more information, please contact by e-mail: info@pro-test.it
If you’re concerned about research in Italy, please join us on 14 June at 15.30 in via Mercanti, in Milan.

Animal Research saves millions of lifes every year, including of those who would see such scientific endeavours end.

Marco Delli Zotti

Speaking of Research Leaflet

When Speaking of Research first started we had a wonderful leaflet which was produced for us by Americans for Medical Progress. In the following six years, Speaking of Research has changed and evolved and as such we have been long overdue for a new leaflet, which we can now unveil.

Download PDF here, or click pictures below.

Speaking of Research is a voluntary organization which relies on your support. We are always looking for new people to get involved in explaining the role of animals in research, and it’s up to you to help us find those people.

Speaking of Research Leaflet Page 1

Speaking of Research Leaflet Page 2

Speaking of Research continues to grow, with website traffic likely to double this year, and the information on the website continually updated.

Check out our Speaking of Your Research campaign to get more people discussing their own research.

Speaking of Research