THE laws that govern animal experiments are hampering British research in the medical sciences and biotechnology, according to a society that represents researchers.
The Research Defence Society made its claim after the act that regulates animal experiments was criticised in the House of Lords. Lord Taverne said the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act imposed an administrative burden on researchers and that the system was "counter-productive".
Researchers require two licences to perform research on animals: a personal licence certifying their competence and a project licence for the specific experiment. At present, 211 people are waiting for personal licences and 258 for project licences.
"It is very burdensome to obtain a licence and it is becoming more so," said Barbara Davies, deputy director of the 10,000-member Research Defence Society.
"I don't think the Animal Act itself is the problem, it is the administration of the act," said Mary Rice of the Association of Medical Research Charities, who is developing best practices for the use of animals in research. "We have people waiting up to six months for a licence."
The Animal Procedures Committee is examining the act as part of a ten-year review.
The National Anti-Vivisection Society said: "We believe that there is insufficient administrative burden put on applicants."