Animal welfarists are 'disappointed' with the Animals in Science Regulation Unit's latest annual report, which says no changes to UK animal welfare legislation will be necessary after Brexit.
Campaigners from Cruelty Free International called it 'a sadly overlooked opportunity for the UK Government to improve animal protection post-Brexit and demonstrate a commitment to ending animal testing for good'.
The report says animal testing will continue in the UK after it leaves the European Union.
Despite the availability of faster, cheaper and more reliable alternatives, and increased public demand for more humane methods, the UK is still Europe's biggest user of animals in laboratories.
Baroness Williams of Trafford wrote the Ministerial Foreword to the report, saying: "The Government is committed to strengthening
the UK’s world-leading science and research
base as we leave the EU and look to the
future as Global Britain.
"This means ensuring
the UK remains one of the best places in
the world for science and innovation and the
go-to place for researchers, innovators and
investors in technology...We are confident that our legislation, the
Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986,
which incorporates the transposed Directive
2010/63/EU, gives us the strongest possible
"We know that this legislation sets
high standards for animal welfare in science,
whilst ensuring continued opportunities for UK
science to access world markets.
I am committed to maintaining our rigorous
and robust regulation of the use of animals
in science. Replacement, reduction and
refinement the 3Rs must remain at the heart
of the UK regulatory system, which provides
assurance to the public, whilst supporting the
delivery of world class science in the UK."
But Michelle Thew, CEO of Cruelty Free International, said: "Brexit has presented a real opportunity to demonstrate to the world that the UK is committed to making a real impact for animals by significantly reducing the amount of suffering in laboratories.
"Instead of preserving the status quo, the Government should use this as a springboard to step up efforts to stop unnecessary animal experiments.
"The UK needs to step up and become world leaders in the development of cutting-edge alternatives to end this outdated practice for good."