Today, a PETA representative delivered a 40,000-strong petition to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, calling for an end to the widely discredited forced swim test in the UK.
Thank you to every supporter and member of the public who spoke out for animals in laboratories and added their name.
The petition delivery was backed by a demo in front of the Home Office in which “lifeguards” rescued a distressed “rat” representing all animals who are tormented in near-drowning tests before being killed and often dissected in laboratories.
The Forced Swim Test Explained
In this test, experimenters induce panic in vulnerable small animals by forcing them into inescapable cylinders of water where they swim, fearful they may drown, and desperately attempt to climb the steep sides of the container and even dive underwater in search of an escape.
Once the test is complete, experimenters often kill the animals – either by gassing, blunt-force trauma to the head, an overdose of anaesthetic, or breaking their necks – to study their brains.
The test is conducted under the erroneous assumption that it can reveal something about mental health conditions in humans. However, it has been heavily criticised, and experts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have clarified that it is not required for the development of antidepressants and said it could even hinder progress in finding effective new treatments.
Action Required by the Home Office
The Home Office is currently considering a new policy on licensing the forced swim test. Advice that was made public earlier this month from the Animals in Science Committee – an independent advisory body to the Home Office on issues relating to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – suggests that many licences to conduct forced swim tests have been granted without the proper scrutiny. PETA is calling for all such licences to be revoked and for use of the test to be ended in the UK.
Ending the Forced Swim Test
Abolishing the forced swim test will save countless animals and spare them a terrifying ordeal while encouraging scientists to use innovative, human-relevant research.
We have submitted our petition to the Home Office, but you can still help mice and rats by using our action page now: