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HELP STOP A NEW MONKEY VIVISECTION LAB PLANNED FOR CAMBRIDGE
Posted 1 August 2001
Cambridge University has re-applied for planning permission for a new primate research centre 'to develop and test new therapies for disorders such as strokes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's Disease, depression, drug addiction, schizophrenia and childhood hyperactivity disorder'.
Many of the experiments would involve animals' brains being surgically mutilated or deliberately damaged with chemicals. Animal Aid recently highlighted examples of precisely these kinds of experiments with our August 2001 Mad Science Awards - some of which went to Cambridge University researchers. After being brain-damaged, the monkeys were force-fed with drugs and set a battery of tests lasting months or even years. They suffered seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea and tremors before, in most cases, being killed for analysis.
Primates are not only completely inappropriate models for such research, the opportunity to study - with their consent - patients with these actual conditions is being criminally squandered; funding going instead to the spurious studies in animals.
Lord Sainsbury - Science Minister and the single most influential promoter of vivisection in Britain - has intervened personally in an attempt to push through the renewed application for the Cambridge labs. (The Observer recently published a piece focussing on Lord Sainsbury and his interference in the planning process - you can read it here.)
The local council rejected the planned project unanimously in February, following a decisive and much-quoted submission by Animal Aid's planning expert and council member, Anthony Keen. Among other issues, Anthony drew attention to the green belt status of the proposed site. Lord Sainsbury - invoking the authority of the Department of Trade and Industry, within which his Science Ministry falls - recommends that the council pay no heed to the green belt designation 'in the national interest'; the proposed research being of 'national importance'.
The vivisection facility, argues Sainsbury, would create a wealth-generating 'business cluster' in Cambridge, where the ignoble Lord just happened to go to university. He also happens to have a very large ('set aside') financial stake in biotech, has a defining role in deciding the direction and funding of medical research in the UK, and has donated millions of pounds to the Labour Party.
Anthony Keen's new objection to the council deals with the role of Sainsbury, as well as the more conventional planning issues. (See also Scientific Critique.) It is a cogently argued submission that provides the local authority with all the ammunition they need to reject the re-application and put Sainsbury back in his box.
Our science researcher, Kathy Archibald, spoke at a demonstration at the proposed site on August 18th, attended by about 250 people, including Seriously Ill Against Vivisection. A march on the Girton brought traffic to a halt. Animal Aid had earlier mailed all local members to ask them to write and to attend the demo. Says Kathy:
"Please do come along to any future demos on this crucial issue. Local residents certainly registered our strength of feeling on that Saturday, and there was some good local media coverage as well - before and after the event."
We are determined to stop this project before it starts. It is not too late to object, even though the council's deadline was August 21st - they are obliged to consider all objections received before their meeting (now postponed again until February).