Animal Aid

CAMBRIDGE HEAD ASKED TO ABANDON PLANS FOR MONKEY LABORATORY

Posted 22 October 2003

An open letter has been sent to Professor Alison Richard, the new Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, urging her to shelve plans to build a massive new research laboratory which would conduct brain experiments on monkeys.

In the letter, Andrew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid, asks Professor Richard:

"to propel Cambridge into the global forefront of scientific excellence by rejecting the plans for a primate research laboratory in favour of a modern facility that focuses on human-based studies."

Animal Aid is working with members of the medical establishment to fight the project on both moral and scientific grounds. As well as serious concerns over animal welfare and the painful, invasive experiments which would take place, the validity of primate-based research is questionable in the first place. States Mr Tyler in his letter: "...findings from primates have frequently misled scientists, sometimes with tragic consequences."

The project - planned for greenbelt land - has been controversial from the start. Plans for the new facility have twice been rejected by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The final decision lies with Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, who has yet to announce his verdict. However, Regent House, the governing body of the University, which approved the lab three years ago, has since revealed that its members were not even told that primate experiments would take place in the proposed centre when they gave their approval. The University's Board of Scrutiny is backing calls for a re-vote.

Says Andrew Tyler:

"Professor Richard has a doctorate in primate biology and has spent more than 20 years studying primates in the wild - the differences between humans and monkeys must be obvious to her. The experiments that will be carried out at the proposed lab would be fundamentally flawed and horrifically cruel. For Cambridge to show itself at the forefront of science it has to abandon this project."

Notes to Editors

  • A recent NOP conducted on behalf of Animal Aid found that the majority of the public do not agree with carrying out experiments on monkeys. 121 MPs have signed an EDM stating "experiments on primates cannot be justified in view of the important biological differences between people and primates".

  • The letter can be viewed online here.

  • To arrange an interview contact Claudia Tarry on 01732 364546.

  • For background information see our Cambridge campaign index.

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