Animal Aid

Animal Aid condemns Medical Research Council's 'callous' research policy

Posted 24 November 2004
Guinea pigs

The Medical Research Council (MRC) continues to waste public funds through its support of research involving the mass production of animals so that they can be killed for their body parts.

This is the conclusion reached by Animal Aid's director, Andrew Tyler and the group's Scientific Consultant, André Menache, following a recent meeting with senior MRC officials.

The meeting was arranged to try to identify common ground on the question of humane methods of medical research. It became evident at the meeting that the MRC has a callous disregard for the large number of animals who are bred and killed especially so that their tissues can be used in scientific research.

Despite the fact that donated human tissue is superior to animal material and is now readily available from human tissue banks, the MRC acknowledged that it still funds research using animal parts. Furthermore, it does not keep a record of the number of animals killed in this way and stated that it has no interest in knowing how many meet this fate.

Rat

It was equally disappointing to note the lack of encouragement the MRC offers researchers to retrain in the use of human cell methodologies. This is especially significant in view of the fact that, as the MRC officials acknowledged, it is relatively easy to retrain people to use human instead of animal cells.

The MRC is host to the much celebrated 3Rs Centre (for the reduction, refinement and replacement of animal experiments). Based on the recent discussions, Animal Aid could not avoid the conclusion that the Centre will be no more than a front - an exercise in spin - intended to placate the growing number of people troubled by the lack of moral and scientific justification for animal experiments. The public has been led to believe that the 'Centre' will be a stand-alone initiative involved in practical work, when it is simply office space within MRC's headquarters.

A move in the right direction would be for the MRC to stop providing grants to scientists using animal tissue. Such scientists could, instead, be offered incentives - grants, retraining - to make use of donated human tissue.

Notes to Editors

  • For more information contact André Menache 01732 364546 ext 233.

  • We have an ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

  • For further background see the animal experiments index.

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