HC Deb 27 November 2002 vol 395 c277W
Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the welfare of those sheep inoculated intracerebrally with cattle BSE brain homogenate; and what measures are in place to ensure minimal suffering by those animals. [83378]

Mr. Morley

The use of animals in scientific procedures is regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which is widely viewed as the most rigorous piece of legislation of its type in the world. It puts into effect, and in some ways exceeds, European Union Directive 86/609/EEC (regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes) and offers a high level of protection to animals while recognising the need to use animals in medical research, the development of new medicines and scientific testing.

Under the 1986 Act, both personal and project licences are required. These ensure that those doing the work are qualified and suitable; that alternatives to animals are used wherever possible; that the number of animals used is minimised; and that suffering or other harmful effects experienced by the animals have been weighed against the potential benefits (to humans or animals). In addition work can only be carried out at designated establishments which meet high standards and which have suitable veterinary and animal welfare personnel.

The sheep inoculated intracerebrally with cattle BSE brain homogenate at the Institute for Animal Health were no exception to the above legislation. All animals were sedated during intracerebral injection of cattle brain material. Inoculated animals were maintained under exceptionally high standards of animal husbandry practice and their health and welfare conditions continually monitored by the highly trained staff at the Institute for Animal Health. Any animal showing definite signs of clinical disease was euthanased immediately, in order to minimise any suffering.

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