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PUBLIC SAYS 'NO' TO PRIMATE RESEARCH
Posted 3 May 2003
A large majority of respondents to a newly-commissioned public opinion poll say that laboratory experiments on primates are morally unacceptable. In a companion survey, roughly half those who gave an opinion also said that information obtained from such experiments can have no direct relevance to humans. This is despite claims by pro-vivisection lobbyists that primates are the most useful of all 'animal models'.
The NOP polls (see Notes) were commissioned by Animal Aid to mark the national campaign group's publication of a major new report setting out the scientific case against the laboratory use of primates for drug testing and research into neurological conditions and infectious diseases. The latest Home Office figures show that 3,342 monkeys were used for such tests in 2001 - an increase of 13% over the previous year. Britain currently uses more monkeys than any other European country. But the total could be boosted dramatically if the government allows Cambridge University to build Europe's largest primate research centre on the outskirts of the city. (See Notes.)
Tony Blair and Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, have already declared their support for the project, thereby potentially prejudicing the independence of a public inquiry into the issue that was staged at the end of last year. The verdict is due this summer.
Animal Aid's new report is called Monkeying Around With Human Health: the cost to people of experiments on primates. The author, Dr Ray Greek, Medical Director of Europeans For Medical Advancement (www.curedisease.net), is one of the world's leading advocates of the scientific case against the use of animals for medical research.
His report reveals many drugs that caused no injury to monkeys have gone on to damage and kill people. Monkeying Around With Human Health is equally scathing of brain research conducted on primates.
Human brains, notes Dr Greek, can now be studied non-invasively using high-tech scanners. These enable the conscious brain to be observed while engaged in a variety of uniquely human activities such as talking, singing, reading and writing.
Said Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:
"The new polls make it clear that the majority of the public find experiments on monkeys morally objectionable. Many people also regard them as scientifically irrelevant. This expression of opinion comes at a time when the government is gearing up to encourage a massively increased use of these animals. Our new report shows that such an action would be a betrayal of human patients as well as of the animal victims."
For more information, call Andrew Tyler or Becky Lilly on 01732 364546. Click here to read the report online.
Dr Greek is available for media interviews. (Tel. 0779 228 9066 / 020 8997 2951)
A copy of the new report, together with a special Briefing Sheet, is being sent to every MP. Thousands of copies, plus a new leaflet, are also being distributed to the general public throughout the country.
The Animal Aid-commissioned NOP polls were conducted by phone 11th - 13th and 25th - 27th April. 52% of respondents regarded experiments on primates as morally unacceptable. Only 40% said they were acceptable - the remainder fell into the 'don't know' or 'refused' category. When asked whether they believed that results from primate experiments could be reliably applied to people, 43% said they could not, whilst 44% said they could. Amongst the younger age groups, a clear majority regarded such tests as scientifically unreliable.
The fate of the controversial proposal by Cambridge University to build a new primate brain research centre is currently being decided by Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. He is expected to give his decision in August. This follows a public inquiry into the project staged in Cambridge at the end of 2002, at which Dr Greek gave evidence on behalf of Animal Aid, National Anti-Vivisection Society, PETA, Uncaged Campaigns and Naturewatch.