Issues of animal testing

The British public deserve to be told the truth about non-animal testing. The recent report by the Weatherall Group (published December 12) on the use of non-human primates in experiments, was deeply disappointing to say the least and its short-sighted th

The British public deserve to be told the truth about non-animal testing. The recent report by the Weatherall Group (published December 12) on the use of non-human primates in experiments, was deeply disappointing to say the least and its short-sighted thinking could have dramatic consequences for medical research and animal welfare. The report concluded that experimenting on primates is essential for medical progress. This was rather predictable as the Weatherall group comprised some of the largest animal testing institutions in the country.

However, the scale of the report's scientific and ethical complacency was a huge injustice not just to primates in laboratories, but also to the British public.

Subjecting animals to experiments is quite rightly an extremely controversial subject of direct relevance to each and every one of us. Like us, non-human primates have an enormous capacity to suffer physically and psychologically, and there is enormous debate about the true efficacy of primate models for disease.

In the light of such vital issues, it is outrageous that such an influential report should present such an overly negative, short-sighted and at times misleading impression about current and future non-animal research techniques.


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There is a huge range of advanced research methods offering more ethical and biologically relevant scientific approaches than experimenting on our closest cousins. Public opinion polls consistently demonstrate that the British public enthusiastically support alternative testing yet know little about it. To its shame, this latest report will have contributed nothing of value to redress that balance. Even worse, it misleads the public by underplaying the importance and indeed superior qualities of non-animal research methods. We believe the public deserves better. The Dr Hadwen Trust funds vital medical research but without using animals, utilising the latest modern non-animal research techniques to advance medical science and help save lives. If your readers want to find out for themselves the true potential of science without animal suffering, contact the Dr Hadwen Trust for further information on 01462 436 819 or visit our website at www.drhadwentrust.org.uk

Wendy Higgins, Communications Director, Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, Hitchin

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* While the workings of the European Parliament are not usually a concern to the residents of Stevenage, I'm convinced readers will be outraged when they hear about a new piece of legislation to be passed in a few weeks, called REACH, which could see a return to testing cosmetic ingredients on animals.

The REACH law (Registration Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) aims to test thousands of chemicals for human safety reasons, which is a great idea, but many of the chemicals to be tested are cosmetic ingredients. The UK stopped testing cosmetic ingredients on animals in 1998, but this new legislation would mean a new wave of animal tests.

We all want chemicals evaluated for safety, but the best way to do so is by using modern non-animal alternatives like human cell and tissue cultures and complex computer models. These alternatives are usually cheaper, and often more reliable, than using rabbits, guinea pigs and mice.

Readers can make their voices heard on this issue by contacting their local MEP and asking them to promote the development of humane non-animal test methods under the REACH legislation, which is the best hope we have for sparing animals the misery of a testing laboratory.

VICTORIA CHAPMAN, Tamar Close, Great Ashby, Stevenage

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