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PRIMATE RESEARCH ON TRIAL
Posted 12 November 2002
Key public inquiry into proposed monkey labs starts this month
Scientific research on primates goes on trial later this month during a public inquiry at which Cambridge University will seek to overturn the local authority's decision to refuse it permission to build a massive new brain research centre on the outskirts of the city.
Hundreds of monkeys every year would have their brains deliberately damaged in an attempt to simulate the symptoms of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, drug addiction, depression and other such conditions. The University will be arguing that the project must go ahead - on Green Belt land - because it is 'in the national interest'. It is backed by biotech business mogul and Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, as well as by the Prime Minister himself. The UK's leading anti-vivisection groups will be at the inquiry to argue that the 'primate model' of these specifically human neurological conditions produces nothing of use to human medicine. The experiments also cause extreme suffering to the animals.
Cambridge researchers have already carried out such 'procedures' in existing university lab facilities and have published descriptions in scientific journals. Those reports show that the animals suffer a range of appalling post-operative symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors and bleeding from head wounds.
Detailed evidence will be submitted jointly by Animal Aid and the National Anti-Vivisection Society - supported by Naturewatch, PeTA, Uncaged and local group, X-CAPE (Cambridge Against Primate Experiments).
Oral evidence for the groups will be presented by Dr Ray Greek M.D., author of two key ground-breaking volumes setting out the scientific case against the 'animal model'.*
The inquiry, which starts on November 26th and is expected to last for seven days, will serve as a key battleground over the future of primate experiments in the UK. The independence of the planning process is also on trial, as a result of the conspicuous prior interventions by Tony Blair and Lord Sainsbury - and because deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has announced that the final decision as to whether the centre goes ahead will be his rather than that of the inspector presiding over the inquiry.
Animal Aid director, Andrew Tyler, and National Anti-Vivisection Society director, Jan Creamer, said in a joint statement:
"Mutilating monkeys will not help in the treatment of people. Alzheimer's, for instance, is a dementia, characterised by loss of intellectual powers - notably the powers of language and organised abstract thought. How do we recognise, let alone measure such things in a marmoset?
"The university wants to build the facility because animal experiments have become a long-standing habit; also because of intellectual arrogance, together with the prestige that comes from doing 'important' research that gets published in specialist journals. A third reason is money - in the form of lucrative research grants (often paid from taxes) plus collaborations with drug and biotech companies whose main objective is profits.
"We urge the University to dedicate its intellectual and financial resources to building a world-class Centre of Excellence. Here, human neurological diseases can be studied using state-of-the-art non-animal technologies, such as computer modelling, cell and tissue cultures, non-invasive brain imaging and clinical observation. A primate lab will not, in any case, have a long-term future. Growing public opposition means that the government will find it increasingly difficult to approve the use of these animals."
Notes to Editors
- More information from Andrew Tyler at Animal Aid on 01732 364546, Sacha Bond at NAVS on 020 8563 0250, and X-CAPE on 01223 311828.
- For full background, click here. See also www.x-cape.org.uk and www.navs.org.uk.
- Brain experiment photos available from NAVS.
- We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.
- The inquiry commences at 10am on Tuesday 26th November, at the Council Offices, South Cambridgeshire Hall, 9-11 Hills Road, Cambridge. The inquiry will sit for 7 days.
- The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) is presenting
separate legal evidence, which will draw heavily on its undercover investigation
at the Cambridge University primate laboratories during 200½002. More information
from Wendy Higgins (020 7700 4888).
* Dr Ray Greek has co-authored, with Dr Jean Greek, Sacred Cows and Golden Geese (Continuum, 2000) and Specious Science (Continuum, 2002). Both are available from the Animal Aid shop.