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CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY - Statement to the council members
Posted 1 October 2003
The following statement calling on Cambridge University to rethink its decision to build a massive primate research centre has been sent, by Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler, to every member of the university's governing Council.
TO THE MEMBERS OF CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COUNCIL: A STATEMENT FROM ANIMAL AID REGARDING THE PROPOSED PRIMATE RESEARCH CENTRE
We currently await Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's decision on whether to approve the application by the University of Cambridge to build a new primate research centre. Whatever Mr Prescott decides, it is open to the University to turn its face against all primate research. On behalf of Animal Aid, I would most strongly urge you to do so. An opportunity to move in that direction presents itself at the next meeting of Regent House, at which it can be anticipated that a complaint will be registered with the Council about the way fundamental details relating to the proposed centre were allegedly withheld from Regent House.
You may be aware that our organisation was among a number of opponents of the centre that presented detailed evidence to the recent public inquiry. Some have sought to characterise our opposition as being rooted in mere sentiment and/or extremism. In reality, the arguments we advanced were almost entirely based on scientific evidence. This pointed to the serious problems arising from using primates as 'models' for human neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. In fact, the track record of the 'primate model' in all fields of medical research is dismal. (See the enclosed Monkeying Around With Human Health report.)
The University's Council will not be adopting an 'anti-science' posture if it chooses to recommend that the University should cease all primate research. On the contrary, by embracing the many non-animal methods of research now available, it will be signalling its commitment to science that is rational, modern and humane.
Nor would its rejection of primate research amount to 'a concession to extremism'. A poll Animal Aid recently commissioned from NOP shows that a significant majority of the public opposes such experiments. Additionally, a parliamentary Early Day Motion tabled in June, calling for the government to ban all primate research, attracted support from 97 MPs after just five weeks. EDM No.1307 objects to the experiments because of 'the important biological differences between people and primates'; because the monkeys' 'suffering is so severe'; and 'because of public opposition to the practice'.
Please also bear in mind that our supporters and our staff all wish to support productive medical research directed at yielding answers to diseases and injuries that cause so much human suffering. We are not immune from such problems. The University of Cambridge belongs at the cutting edge of such endeavours. A decision to repudiate the primate research route would be widely applauded and serve only to enhance the university's fine reputation.
Director, Animal Aid