A paper estimating the numbers of mice and rats used annually in US research has been strongly challenged within the biomedical research community.
In a paper published in Nature, US veterinarian Larry Carbone estimated a figure of 111.5 million used in 2017-18, and goes on to recommend that mice and rats are included within the US Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
Unlike similar legislation in the EU and UK, rodent numbers are not included in the AWA, which reports the numbers of vertebrate animals used in scientific research and inspected by government officials.
However, the study has drawn strong criticism from the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) which says the figure is a huge overestimate and is based on a small amount of data from large institutions.
Speaking of Research has also addressed problems in the study design and refuted the claims that rodents are not protected by federal regulation.
“Now is not the time to be seeking additional restrictions on biomedical research or endeavouring to make it more difficult and more expensive,” said NABR president, Matthew Bailey.
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, commented: “I think it’s high time for an open an honest debate about the numbers of all animals used in US research.
"Whether the American public is interested in the number of rats, mice and zebrafish used in research, and if this animal use should be covered by US regulations, is an issue that needs to be addressed if plans for greater openness in US research are ever to be realised. It has become the elephant in the room."