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WRONG KIND OF RESEARCH - Letter to the editor
Posted 1 February 2002
The following letter, written by Animal Aid's Andrew Tyler, appeared in the Independent on 11th February 2002.
Barbara Pointon, in expressing her dismay at South Cambridgeshire District Council's decision to throw out a proposed primate research laboratory conveyed the impression that the dispute is between the mindless thuggery of animal rights campaigners and the well-directed altruism of researchers keen to deliver cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.
The reality is very different. As Animal Aid noted in our formal, thoroughly referenced objection to the monkey laboratory, the fight against such human conditions is not advanced by opening up the skulls of monkeys, chemically or surgically mutilating them and pretending the result is the equivalent of these specifically-human neurological conditions. Not only is the disease-construct bogus, there are important differences between non-human and human primates relating to, for instance, the impact of viral and other pathogens, and the manner in which drugs are absorbed and excreted. What harms or helps a macaque might have precisely the reverse effect in people.
There is a lot of money and intellectual prestige tied up with such research - never mind its efficacy or safety. Those who profit from it indulge in the worst kind of moral blackmail (let us have our way or you won't get a cure for Alzheimer's) to extract public and political support.
Experiments on animals - monkeys included - are a betrayal of people too, because they yield nothing of any use. And let's not forget that all of us - animal rights campaigners included - are prone to illness and to the heartache that can accompany it. We all require medical research that is rational and capable of delivering the goods.
Director, Animal Aid