Animal Aid

MEDICAL CASE AGAINST MONKEY LAB

Posted 3 December 2002
Protestors in Cambridge

Key evidence in the public inquiry into controversial plans by Cambridge University to build a new primate lab will be presented this Wednesday.

Dr Ray Greek MD, Medical Director of Europeans For Medical Advancement, will be speaking for Animal Aid and the National Anti-Vivisection Society when he challenges the university to prove the scientific merits of such work. So far, they have conspicuously failed to demonstrate any benefit to people from decades of research on monkeys.

Says Dr Greek:

"The track record of primate brain research is abysmal. Everything we know about Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other specifically human neurological disorders has been learned from studying humans and their tissues. This is how future breakthroughs will be made. Mutilating monkeys helps no-one and actually harms patients by misleading researchers and diverting them from more productive avenues of research, such as brain-scanning and clinical research."

The university clearly believes its prestige alone is sufficient to justify conducting open-skull surgery on monkeys, implanting electrodes in their brains and testing their behaviour in response to having parts of their brain removed. However, it will be called to account on Wednesday in this landmark forum.

The NAVS and Animal Aid have already provided the inquiry with a dossier of scientific evidence concerning the flaws in the animal work, the non-animal methods that could be used instead and the sustainability of such a laboratory. This week the university's scientific arrogance will be exposed, when the burden of proof is on them to justify their intentions scientifically.

Notes to Editors

  • More information from Andrew Tyler at Animal Aid on 01732 364546. Also Sacha Bond at NAVS on 020 8563 0250. For full background, click here.
  • Dr Greek's evidence is scheduled for Wednesday but please check with Andrew Tyler in case it is brought forward to Tuesday. The venue will be St. Paul's Church Centre, Hills Road.
  • The NAVS has photographs, and video footage (Betacam SP) of the type of brain research on monkeys proposed at the new lab. Also video footage of a disturbed lab monkey, supplied to a UK lab by Cambridge University.
  • ISDN facilities available at both the NAVS and Animal Aid, for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • In 2001, 2.6 million experiments were conducted on animals in the UK.
  • Animal experiments are not currently included in Freedom of Information Act regulations; public scrutiny of applications project licences to use animals in research is currently against the law.
  • This Monday, Dec 2nd, the Inquiry inspector Stuart Nixon allowed a wide range of expert, non-expert and local speakers to take the witness stand. All those who spoke opposed the planned centre.
    • Professor Claude Reiss, representing Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine, explained that 'no species can stand as a biological model for another species'
    • Margaret Wright, principal national speaker for the Green Party, lamented that 'the Green Belt [on which the university want to build the new centre] is now seen as an impediment to those who seek urban expansion'
    • Cyril Rosen, Honorary secretary of the UK branch of IPPL, warned of the serious potential risk to local people of monkey-borne viruses
    • Greg Avery of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) insisted that, despite Cambridge University's statements to the contrary, his group would vehemently oppose the new centre, should it be built
    • Susan Hughes spoke on behalf of hundreds of local residents who have signed petitions against the plans
    • Joan Court, Cambridge graduate and founder of Animals, People and Environment (APE) said that many more people, including herself, would engage in civil disobedience if the centre is built
    • The bursar of Girton College expressed her concerns that ongoing protests would increase the risk of traffic accidents, heighten security costs and threaten the college's conference business
    • Professor Greenwood of the London School of Economics, a Cambridge graduate and local resident, was incensed by the lack of consultation by the university and the dismissive way local residents have been treated
    • Dr Jerry Vlasak of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine - a US group representing over 100,000 people, including over 5,000 physicians - said that the lab would generate volumes of useless data at vast expense to the taxpayer and of no value to patients
    • Pam Ferdin of the California-based Primate Freedom Project said the city and the university would get a black eye from this and that she would be calling for a US-wide tourist boycott of Cambridge if the centre was built
    • Louise Owen spoke on behalf of the Medical Research Modernisation Committee and of Seriously ill for Medical Research on the harm caused by the continuing use of the animal model and the betrayal of patients it represents
    • Annabel Holt said the enterprise would be a betrayal of knowledge and of humanity
  • The day began with evidence from the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection), including a screening of their Cutting Edge undercover expose - revealing the horror and futility of primate research at Cambridge University itself.

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