Today, on World Day for Laboratory Animals, actors Annette Crosbie and
Brian Blessed joined the NAVS, and MPs Adrian Sanders, Caroline Lucas, Jim
Dowd, Kerry McCarthy and Tessa Munt in calling on the Prime Minister to
remove the secrecy clause which prevents transparency on animal research,
Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment
A giant postcard calling for repeal of Section
24 was signed by celebrities Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Julian
Clary, Alexei Sayle, Annette Crosbie, Benjamin Zephaniah, Brian Blessed,
Gary Webster, Jenny Seagrove, Julie Peasgood, Prunella Scales, Rick Wakeman,
Samantha Womack and Wendy Turner-Webster, and handed in to 10 Downing Street
on the day.
Celebrities speak out in support of the campaign
Brian Blessed: "We are the guardians of this planet, and the animals
are there for us to protect not to persecute. We must end the terrible
suffering that animals endure in the laboratory."
"The public has a right to know what animals are subjected to in the name of
research, and the alternatives that could be used to replace them. The
secrecy that currently shrouds such tests must end now."
Crosbie: "That animals suffer in laboratories at all is dreadful, but the
fact that this suffering is hidden from public view, and subject to such
secrecy, is unforgiveable."
Twiggy: "While animals continue to
unnecessarily languish in laboratories, the very least we can do is to give
them a voice. That's why I'm supporting the NAVS campaign for greater
transparency in animal research laboratories and urge the government to
repeal Section 24."
Removal of the secrecy clause would allow
wider scientific and public appraisal of animal experiments. Only technical
details of proposed experiments need be made available - personal details
and commercially sensitive information would be protected as they are now,
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It would also bring UK
legislation into line with the new Government-supported European Directive
on animals used in research, in which public accountability and access to
information are key principles.
Currently, licence applications
are made in secret and awarded in secret. There is no public access to
information before a licence is granted to allow wider scientific and public
scrutiny of the need to use animals. Although the Home Office provides
online 'non technical summaries' of licences that have been awarded, the
debate about whether the animals should have been used takes place after the
event. The public has a right to know what animals are being subjected to
behind closed doors.
Recent examples of animal research where
the NAVS would have wanted to see wider scientific and public scrutiny
before the animals were used
At Glasgow University, female
hamsters suffered probes inserted into their bodies and were then given
Clostridium difficile (diarrhoea causing) bacteria and antibiotics. They
suffered extensive damage as a result of the infection, and were killed at
12, 24 and 36 hours later. One group were killed when they succumbed to
infection after 62 hours.
At St George's, University of London,
female monkeys were repeatedly dosed with an HIV protein and a gel, into
their vaginas. This repetitive research was conducted in parallel with a
human study and takes a scientific backward step, as it attempts to use HIV
in animals to study the primate version, SHIV. There are also other studies
in humans that are already further developed than primate research.
At the University of Manchester, genetically engineered, visually
impaired mice were made to swim to an escape platform, indicated by a light,
and compared with the results from mice with normal vision, performing the
same escape task. Other mice were subjected to needle probes and contact
lens style electrodes in their eyes, and recordings made from their eyes and
brains. This use of animals repetitive and worse was conducted alongside
non-invasive research with human volunteers.
At the Government's
biological warfare facility in Porton Down, Wiltshire, twenty-two marmoset
monkeys were surgically implanted with probes and exposed to a bacterium,
which caused deadly disease. The monkeys suffered breathlessness, rising
temperatures, pneumonia and bleeding lungs. The course of the disease is
known to differ between primates and humans. Similar experiments have been
carried out since 1925 and the justification for using these intelligent,
emotional and sensitive primates was their small size, allowing "ethical,
safe housing within biocontaminent restraints, as well as their low cost and
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Oxford colleges brace themselves for protest commemorating World Day for
Animals in Laboratories
Several colleges will close to visitors due
to an animal rights protest planned for Saturday.
descend upon Oxford from around the UK on Saturday, April 27th, to mark the
World Day for Animals in Laboratories (WDAIL).
Though the protest is
expected to be relatively peaceful, various colleges have cited noise issues
that could affect revision for exams, as well as security concerns, as the
reason for shutting their doors to tourists during the protests.
press release from the organisers of the protest stated that the rally would
begin at noon at Oxpens Recreation Ground and that the protesters would
subsequently march around the city, ending up at the University Vivisection
Laboratory on South Parks Road, where they plan to stop for two speeches in
honour of the animals subject to University experiments.