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March 14, 2012

HSI/UK Calls for Honest Debate on Animals in Medical Research

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • We're working to find alternatives. Vic Pigula/istock

London—Humane Society International/UK is working to replace the use of animals in research and testing with modern, human-relevant techniques and issues the following statement from Troy Seidle, director of research & toxicology for Humane Society International, in response to the current debate about importing animals to the United Kingdom for medical research:

“There are legitimate concerns about the suffering of animals transported thousands of miles around the globe and imported into the United Kingdom for experimentation. Today’s statement by pro-animal research scientists fails to mention that the animals they most want to transport are non-human primates, and their ‘need’ for primate imports is based largely on financial concerns: it is cheaper for them to replenish supplies following capture of wild animals in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, than it is to set up breeding colonies in the UK.

In 2008, the European Commission proposed adoption of EU strategies to phase out the use of offspring of wild-caught monkeys. This was successfully defeated by pro-animal research scientists and companies, so their ‘need’ to import these animals—in often sickening conditions—remains. This is not about preserving essential medical research, it is about reducing costs for some of the biggest companies in the world.

Scientists genuinely interested in furthering biomedical research rather than doggedly preserving the status-quo, tend to be more open-minded, supporting a variety of techniques and avoiding campaigning in favour of a single approach. HSI UK is calling for a truly honest debate not obfuscated by exaggerated claims about animal research efficacy, and one in which the scientific case for not using animals is given a genuinely fair hearing. The regrettably bloody-minded rhetoric so often touted by those who campaign for animal research, risks undermining the great work done by millions of biomedical scientists worldwide who don’t use animals because they recognise that more human-relevant approaches exist. It serves to suppress debate and drive an increasingly artificial wedge between the vocal few and the majority of bench scientists who don’t ascribe to a pro-animal use agenda.”

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, +44(0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International/UK and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organisations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsiuk.org.

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