SEOUL, Apr. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — Despite growing criticism, the number of animals used in South Korean lab experiments is increasing, reaching 3 million for the first time last year.
Data from the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency released on Wednesday revealed that the number of animals used for testing and research rose 7.1 percent last year, with a total of 351 institutions using over 3 million animals.
The use of animals in lab testing has been on a rapid increase in recent years, despite questions over the ethical basis of the practice, soaring from less than 2 million in 2013, a whopping 56.7 percent jump over the last half decade.
In addition to the total number of animal tests, the per institution figure also rose, and the 2.8 million rodents used accounted for more than 90 percent of all of the animals tested.
When broken down by animal type, birds and rabbits followed rodents, becoming the second and third most used laboratory animals.
The number of other mammals like dogs, cats, and pigs which were used in testing amounted to 32,852, accounting for just over 1 percent.
Animal testing is broken down into five grades ranging from A to E based on the level of pain inflicted on the subjects.
A and B grades refer to animals being raised in a natural environment with little to no pain, while experiments that are graded C could involve slight pain.
On the other hand, grade D experiments require animals to receive pain killers and anesthetics, while no action is taken for animals used in grade E experiments to relieve pain.
Over 1 million animals were used in grade E experiments, according to the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, the most common form of animal testing, while a similar number of animals were used in grade D experiments.
With over 860,000 animals falling under the category of grade C, over 9 in 10 laboratory animals are being used in stress-inducing experiments.
Since 2008, the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency has collected data on animal testing every year for use in the development of animal protection policies.