STATISTICS released by the Home Office last month reveal an alarming increase in the number of animals experimented on in 2010.

More than 3.7 million animals were used in British laboratories, an increase of three per cent from 2009.

A large increase in the number of genetically modified animals and animals with a harmful defect now make up 54 per cent of all tests. The number of mice has increased by two per cent (2,670,067) monkeys by 78 per cent (1,103) and birds by 12 per cent.

There has been an increase in the reuse of dogs and primates in experiments.

This contrasts sharply with the commitment of the Government to “work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research”.

The European Commission is at present considering delaying a 2013 ban on animal tested cosmetics in the EU.

Sweden, Austria and Belgium have each given their backing to a 2013 ban.

If the European Commission extends the deadline it would have devastating consequences for animals used in cruel cosmetic testing.

Some of our major retailers have bowed to consumer pressure and seen fit to go ‘cruelty free’ with their own brand cosmetics, toiletries and household products.

The use of animals to test the drugs used to treat medical conditions is causing concern to members of the scientific professions who are alarmed by the huge number of people suffering from adverse drug reactions.

Letters have been written to the PM and to the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley calling for a fresh approach.

A fundamental problem they say, is that a rat is not a human, they are different in size, have different metabolisms and have different diets, so using animals to predict effects in humans is difficult. In 2008 the EC estimated that adverse reaction to prescription treatments kill almost 200,000 people annually.

Surely there’s a better way to cure our human ills than the misleading practice of animal experimentation?

HELEN NELSON, Stop Wickham Animal Testing (SWAT).