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CLIMAX OF HISTORIC MONKEY LAB INQUIRY
Posted 6 January 2003
Cambridge University has been challenged to account for itself as never before in an extraordinary public inquiry into plans to build the biggest primate research lab in Europe. Following two weeks of witness evidence that began on 26th November, the inquiry will close on Wednesday 8th January. Barristers representing all the main parties will sum up the evidence presented by planning experts, scientists, the police, local residents and animal rights campaigners.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has the final say on whether the lab - in which, every year, hundreds of monkeys would be subjected to painful brain experiments - should be built on such a hotly disputed Green Belt site on the outskirts of Cambridge. The proposed location is very close to the junction of the M11 and A14 - alarming the police and local authorities, given the declared resolve of direct-action protestors to prevent the development. If Mr Prescott does grant planning permission, opponents of the project will know that greed has triumphed over scientific merit, planning law, public interest and common sense.
Tony Blair proclaimed in his speech to the Royal Society last year that work should not be stopped simply because it is controversial. But in a democratic society, vital controversies must be debated in public. For the first time ever in such a public forum, Cambridge University scientists were required to justify their experiments on monkeys, which they claim will advance our understanding of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, drug addiction and other neurological disorders. They could not.
In contrast, the case against such experiments advanced by Dr Ray Greek MD on behalf of The National Anti-Vivisection Society and Animal Aid was compelling. Dr Greek, medical director of Europeans For Medical Advancement, argued cogently that such experiments would hinder rather than advance progress in treating these uniquely human neurological disorders. Said Dr Greek:
"World-class research on human brains, both living and post-mortem, such as that conducted at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre and Cambridge Brain Bank, is the key to the future of neuroscience. It is time the public knew that using nonhuman primates is archaic and dangerous to human health. The abandonment of monkey models is absolutely vital for medicine to advance to the stage where we will be able to cure and prevent these dreadful diseases. A facility to study the brains of monkeys rather than humans would be a foolish and expensive monument to the past."
Notes to Editors
- More information from Andrew Tyler at Animal Aid on 01732 364546. Also Jan Creamer/Sacha Bond at NAVS on 020 8563 0250. For full background, click here.
- The final day of the inquiry starts 9.30am on Wednesday 8th January at St. Paul's Church Centre, 15 Hills Road, Cambridge.
- Dr Ray Greek has co-authored, with Dr Jean Greek, Sacred Cows and Golden Geese (Continuum, 2000) and Specious Science (Continuum, 2002). Both available from the Animal Aid shop.
- Brain experiment photographs and video footage are available from the NAVS.
- Both Animal Aid and the NAVS have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews.