UK public opinion largely positive
Recent research on public attitudes to animal experimentation has been published on the Ipsos MORI website.
The tracking poll carried out in December 2010 has seen an increase in the belief that we have strict regulation of animal research in the UK. Less than a third (29%) of British adults now have a lack of trust in the regulatory system, compared with slightly more (32%) a year ago. Two thirds of people agree that the rules governing animal experimentation in Britain are probably tough.
As we have seen in previous years, nine in ten conditionally accept the idea of animal research and testing to some degree, with three in five accepting the idea unconditionally. About three quarters accept animal studies as long as they are for medical research purposes, which is consistent with other polls that ask similar questions.
Long term, acceptance of animal research has grown. Many of the questions have been asked in regular Ipsos MORI polls since 1999. The most significant positive changes occurred between 1999 and 2005. Since then, acceptors have risen slightly, but so have objectors, suggesting a slight increase in polarisation of views.
Just one in six (17%) agree that the Government should ban all experiments on animals for any form of research. Around three quarters of British adults think that legitimate tactics such as handing out leaflets, writing letters, asking people to put a protest sticker or poster in their window, or organising petitions are acceptable for protesting against the use of animals in research.
In December and January, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) conducted two separate polls: the results are published together in the Ipsos MORI report. Awareness of a national scientific centre working on the three Rs is low: around one sixth say they know a centre with this remit exists, although over half of them are not sure. But there is a thirst to know more: a slight majority would be interested to find out more about improving the welfare of animals in research and the alternatives to using such animals.
The NC3Rs survey shows that TV remains the most popular channel for information. Websites have overtaken print sources as the second most popular channel for information.