X-Message-Number: 23339
From: "Basie" <>

Subject: Plans to build a major new medical laboratory in England were scrapped
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2004 15:54:17 -0500

British Medical Lab Plans Scrapped Over Protests
Tue Jan 27, 9:28 AM ET  Add Science - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Plans to build a major new medical laboratory in England
were scrapped Tuesday in the face of protests by animal rights groups.

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While animal activists claimed the decision as a major victory, leading
scientists called for specific legislation to tackle the problem of
intimidation preventing medical research.

Cambridge University said the project, which would have used monkeys for
neurological testing, would no longer go ahead and cited spiraling costs
over security needed to keep out anti-vivisectionist groups.

The protesters claimed it as a defining victory.

"We are absolutely delighted," said a spokeswoman for Animal Aid. In a joint
statement with the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the group said the
decision signaled that the university failed to show the proposed
experiments would be of any use to people.

The university and the publicly funded Medical Research Council (MRC), said
the decision was a great disappointment as the laboratory would have
attracted scientists from around the world to work on diseases such as
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The university said the project, which had the backing of Prime Minister
Tony Blair (news - web sites), had risen from an initial cost of 24 million
pounds ($43 million) to 32 million due to long planning delays and the
expected cost of extra security.

"The protesters have added to the cost... there is no question about that
but even without them the project is extraordinarily expensive now,"
Cambridge University pro-Vice Chancellor Tony Minson told BBC Radio.

While protests over the planned Cambridge center have remained peaceful,
Britain's largest and oldest animal testing center in nearby Huntingdon,
nearly collapsed in 2001 when frequent violent protests caused financiers to
pull out.

On that occasion the government stepped in to insure the center.

Reacting to Tuesday's announcement, leading scientists and the Association
of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) called for the government to

"It is quite intolerable that much-needed research... should be prevented
from taking place by people who use intimidation, harassment and violence,"
the Director General of ABPI, Dr Trevor Jones said in a statement.

MRC chief executive, Professor Colin Blakemore, defended the use of testing
on animals, saying guidelines were extremely strict and that animal testing
was only used when there was no alternative.

"We must make sure that pressure and threats from a tiny minority of
protesters do not impede research that is vital in the hunt for treatments
and cures for terrible illnesses," he said.

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