Letter: Tests and terrorists(1)

January 5, 2001

Your article on legislation to limit terrorist activities by extreme animal rights groups ("Law fails to assure animal researchers", THES, December 15) will be welcomed by scientists who live in fear of threats and violent acts.

Your leader suggests the "central problem (is) that public acceptance of animal experiments is falling". But this contradicts a MORI poll commissioned by the Medical Research Council that revealed that over 80 per cent of those interviewed supported experiments on animals in medical research, provided suffering was minimised and no relevant alternatives were available (both of which are required under UK law before any animal experimentation can be undertaken).

The poll also revealed the extent of ignorance about animal experiments, and wider public understanding of the issues is urgently needed. But this is unlikely to influence the very small minority of extremists who use fear and violence to promote their cause.

You suggest that share-holder and customer unease is more damaging than placard wavers at the gates of companies such as Huntingdon Life Sciences, but much of their unease has resulted from direct personal threats from violent protesters rather than from peaceful demonstrations.

As you say, "not tested on animals has turned into a boast used in marketing". Perhaps a statement such as "discovered, developed and tested on animals" put on human and veterinary medicines would now be fair and informative.

Nancy Rothwell
UK Life Sciences Animal Science Group

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