August 24, 2005

Animal testing backed by 500 UK scientists

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 500 leading British scientists
and doctors gave their backing to animal testing on Wednesday,
a day after a farm targeted by activists said it would stop
breeding guinea pigs for medical research.

The declaration, drawn up by the Research Defense Society
(RDS), said a small but vital part of work into new medicines
involved the use of animals.

Signatories included three Nobel laureates, 190 Fellows of
the Royal Society and the Medical Royal Colleges, and more than
250 academic professors.

"It shows the strength and depth of support for humane
animal research in this country," said RDS Executive Director
Simon Festing.

Animal research is a highly emotive topic in Britain, which
is home to a vocal and at times violent animal rights lobby.

Violent actions have provoked warnings by the
pharmaceutical industry that the hostile environment could
undermine investment in research and development in the UK.

The Darley Oaks Farm in Staffordshire, central England,
which breeds guinea pigs for use in laboratories, has been the
subject of one of the most sustained harassment campaigns.

The family owners said on Tuesday they would cease work
following a long and violent campaign by rights protesters
which included the desecration of a family grave.

The RDS declaration comes 15 years after a similar pledge
supporting animal research by the British Association for the
Advancement of Science.