THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS DESCRIPTIONS AND VIDEO OF ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS WHICH SOME READERS MAY FIND DISTRESSING
As the Home Office reviews its policy on the forced swim test, over 400 scientists, academics, and medical and veterinary professionals from around the world have sent an open letter to parliamentary under secretary of state for the Home Office lord Sharpe urging him to prohibit the use of the widely discredited and abysmally cruel test in the UK.
Forced swim test: not valid, not scientific
The group says in the letter:
The forced swim test is not a valid or reliable scientific method, and its use must be ended.
Despite the scientific and welfare concerns, the test is still widely used, and many of those who fund, authorise, or use the forced swim test appear not to be aware of the debate around its use and interpretation.
The letter (available here) calls for an end to the forced swim test, an experiment that induces panic in small, vulnerable animals by forcing them into inescapable cylinders of water, where they fear they may drown. The animals attempt to climb the steep sides of the container and even dive underwater, desperate to find a means of escape:
Preposterous mental health claims
The experiment is conducted under the erroneous assumption that it can reveal something about mental health conditions in humans.
The Home Office is currently reviewing its policy on the forced swim test in the UK. Advice made public last year from the Animals in Science Committee – an independent advisory body to the Home Office on issues relating to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – suggested that many licences to conduct the test had been granted without the proper scrutiny.
It concluded that the test has significant limitations. PETA is calling for all licences to be revoked and for the forced swim test to be ended in the UK.
Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recently acknowledged that the forced swim test has a significant adverse impact on animals.
The council announced that the test must not be used in new projects for modelling human depression or anxiety, the treatment of these conditions, nor other reasons without compelling justification. Those currently using the forced swim test must conduct a review of their project within three months.
PETA science policy advisor Dr Kimberley Jayne said:
Abolishing this outrageously crude and cruel test could spare thousands of animals a terrifying ordeal and encourage scientists to focus on human-relevant research methods. PETA and world-leading academics and scientists are calling for an end to the forced swim test, and the Home Office must implement an immediate policy ban.
Featured image via PETA – YouTube