Welfare groups have criticized confirmation that animal experimentation in Irish laboratories has rocketed over the last five years.
New figures released by the Department of Health show an 800 per cent rise in the number of animals used for medical experiments.
The new figures show that 280,000 animals were used in live experiments in 2010, up from just 38,000 in 2005.
The Irish Examiner reports that more than 80% of the animals were used for experiments conducted by ‘commercial establishments’.
Universities and colleges, hospitals, agriculture and veterinary institutes, fish farms and fisheries research institutes accounted for the remainder of the experiments.
A spokesperson for the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society told the paper: “The figures are unprecedented and disturbing.
“Ireland now has one of the highest levels of animal testing in Europe.”
The report revealed the use of horses, dogs, cats, mice, rats, cattle, goats, fish, birds, sheep, pigs, rabbits and guinea pigs for experiments.
Campaigners are also concerned that more than 80 per cent of the animals used were experimented on under a license which specifically allows researchers to dispense with the need for anesthetic.
The report states that a record 831 dogs were used in experiments in 2010, up four times on the 2005 figure. It outlines that some 791 of the 831 were not given anesthetic, while 160 of the dogs were used in unspecified toxicology tests.
The paper says the majority of the dogs were used for research and development on medical and dentistry products and devices as well as animal medicines and were specifically reared by pharmaceutical companies.
Experiments were also carried out on almost 1,000 rabbits, 180 cats, 62 horses and donkeys, 2,672 cattle and more than 15,000 fish.
More than 240,000 mice were used for toxicology tests in 2010, with over 116,000 used for the lethal dose 50 per cent test and ‘other lethal methods’ which aims to determine the dose that kills exactly half of the animals used.
The latest government statistics also show two G certificates were issued in 2010 which permit experiments which may require ‘the animal to experience severe pain that is likely to be prolonged’.
The Irish Anti-Vivisection Society spokesperson added: “Some 226,070 tests, over 80%, were conducted by commercial establishments, raising serious concerns that animals are being made to suffer, often purely for the sake of profit maximization.
“We are concerned the lethal dose 50 per cent test is still being used in Ireland, as it is being phased out elsewhere.”
The Society has called for a full investigation into the recent explosion in Irish animal testing.
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