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LIB DEM SPOKESMAN CALLS FOR UNIVERSITIES TO END MONKEY EXPERIMENTS
Posted 18 July 2003
The Vice Chancellors of eight universities that conduct invasive experiments on primates have been sent a letter by Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesman, Norman Baker MP, asking them to use their influence to bring such work to an end.
He describes drug testing and disease research on monkeys as "dubious, both morally and scientifically".
Mr Baker bolsters his request by pointing to a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) he tabled in June, which calls for a government ban on all primate experiments. It has already been signed by 97 MPs.
As well as the welfare dimension, EDM 1307 objects to experiments on primates on the grounds that such research is bad science because of the significant physiological differences between humans and monkeys.
The tabling of the Motion comes just as Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is expected to rule on whether or not to give the go-ahead to highly controversial plans by Cambridge University to build a massive new primate brain research laboratory.
Mr Prescott's decision, says his office, is expected 'in the next few weeks'.
In his letter to the eight Vice Chancellors, Mr Baker cites an opinion poll recently commissioned from NOP by Animal Aid.
"This has shown," writes the Lib Dem spokesman, "that the majority of public opinion is opposed to primate experiments on moral grounds. The same poll demonstrated that there is also a large degree of scepticism about the scientific worth of these experiments."
The scientific case against primate experiments has been set out in a new report by Dr Ray Greek, Medical Director of Europeans For Medical Advancement. Called Monkeying Around With Human Health: the cost to people of primate experiments, the report, published by Animal Aid, not only points to the hazards of applying to humans data extracted from marmosets, macaques and other non-human primates, it also details how our understanding of human ailments and toxic hazards can be advanced through a range of modern non-animal research and testing methodologies.
Notes to Editors
For more information, call Andrew Tyler or Becky Lilly on 01732 364546.
The UK is the largest user of primates in experiments in the European Union. In 2001, 3986 experiments using 3342 monkeys were conducted in the UK alone - an 8% and 13% increase respectively since 2000.
Norman Baker's letter has been sent to the Vice Chancellors of the following universities: Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Newcastle, Nottingham and Bristol.