Public given voice to support animal research

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Medical research, Animal testing

A pioneering website has been set up that enables members of the UK
public to express their support for medical research that uses
animals as subjects.

The move is in response to recent news reports that have unfairly portrayed animal research as an unnecessary process, which has been carried despite mass protests from the general public.

The website aims to gather the details of those that log on forming a petition that effectively gives a voice to the "silent majority" who accept the need for animal studies.

The petition, which has been set up by The Coalition for Medical Progress (CMP), includes pharmaceutical companies and those involved in academic research.

In signing the petition, the visitor agrees to three statements that embody why animal research experimentation is important and necessary.

The statements read: "Medical research is essential for developing safe and effective medical and veterinary treatments, requiring some studies using animals."

"Where there is no alternative available, medical research using animals should continue in the UK."

"People involved in medical research using animals have a right to work and live without fear of intimidation or attack."

One of the features of the petition allows support to be given anonymously as the website records e-mail and Internet protocol addresses to avoid multiple sign-ups. It does not make these details public.

According to MORI research in 2005, 75 per cent of the population accept the need for animal studies in medical research, but this 'silent majority' rarely have the opportunity to be heard.

"This is a great day for medical research,"​ said Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council and Chariman of CMP.

"For the first time, everyone who knows that the development of vaccines, medicines and other treatments involves some studies on animals will be able to demonstrate their support for those who work in medical research.... I urge everyone who has ever been helped by medical treatment to visit the site and register their support."

Jo Tanner, chief executive of CMP added to these sentiments stating that for all the answers to disease that have been found in the past 50 years, there are still so many for which scientists have no solution.

"Animals are a small but vital part of medical research, without which we would struggle to find cures for conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Multiple Sclerosis or even asthma. By signing the People's Petition, you will be showing your support for those trying to do just that,"​ she added.

Anti-vivisectionists hit back at the plans saying most people would change their minds if people saw the real suffering that went on inside UK Laboratories rather than the sanitised version that was broadcast by the media.

"Inside animal laboratories, it is still legal for animals to legally be burned, poisoned, electrocuted, brain damaged, paralysed, infected with disease, surgically altered, psychologically abused and killed. This is simply morally unacceptable,"​ said Alistair Currie, Campaigns Director of the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

"Animal research is not the solution to human diseases. Researchers use animals largely through conservatism, tradition and a reluctance to innovate. They need to stop delaying medical progress, and switch to more modern methods, such as cell and tissue culture, artificial organ systems, QSARs, computer modeling, advanced imaging and other humane techniques that offer more accurate, reliable and repeatable data."

Currie pointed to a 2003 poll that found 76 per cent of people thought the Government should, as a matter of principle, prohibit experiments on any live animals which caused pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

The People's Petition can be seen >here.

Related topics: Preclinical Research

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