Campaign against test that forces mice and rats to swim earns £50,000 from Lush

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Activists to end New Zealand’s ‘forced swim test’ on rodents win 2022 Lush award for best global project (Image: Lush)

A campaign against a test that involved placing mice and rats in sealed containers and forcing them to swim has won a £50,000 prize at Dorset’s Lush.

The cosmetics company’s Lush Prize this year saw £250,000 awarded to scientists, activists and educators working to end or replace animal testing in the industry.

The founders of Lush were campaigning against animal testing before opening their first shop on Poole High Street in 1995. The Lush Prize was launched in 2012 as a joint project between Lush and the Ethical Consumer Research Association and has awarded £2.7m in 35 countries to 126 winners.

This year, 65 shortlisted organizations and individuals from 26 countries were considered by the judges in six categories. The awards went to scientists in the US, undercover investigators in Spain and young researchers in the UK, Brazil and the Netherlands.

The £50,000 Best Overall Project prize has been awarded to New Zealand activists, who have lobbied against the forced swim test, a procedure in which small animals such as rats and mice are forced to swim in an inescapable glass of water. water until they “give up” and float.

The test was invented in the 1970s and thousands of mice were given antidepressants or were genetically engineered to induce depression. The theory was that a depressed rodent would give up more quickly than a happy one.

The campaign led New Zealand’s Select Committee on Economic Development, Science and Innovation to conclude that the test was “largely useless”. New Zealand’s animal ethics committees have since begun turning down applications for the test.

Lush awards director Rob Harrison said: “The award was established 10 years ago to help end all animal testing, not least because they consistently give misleading results about solutions to human health problems.

“The work of the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society has shown us that one way to achieve this could be to persuade governments to refuse one test at a time. They have also done a great job getting students and others to sign petitions and attract the public attention to the campaign.

Two British scientists, Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva, of the University of Birmingham and Dr Sudeep Joshi of the Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London, have each received a £10,000 Lush Prize for their work in the Young Researcher category prize. This category is open to scientists looking to fund the next stage of a career focused on a future without animal testing.

Dr. Carvalho e Silva said: “The animal tests in the chemical safety assessment have shown a level of reproducibility of around 80% and the different laboratory animal species are concordant in only 60% of the tests. Furthermore, their relevance to human data has been disputed, and studies have found that some animal tests are inconsistent with human response.

‘Although even current non-animal testing methods have limitations, some promising developments have been achieved.’

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