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October 31, 2013

The BUAV welcomes public discussion about animal experiments (“Animal research under the microscope”, 17 October). However, the fundamental flaw in universities hosting the Big Animal Research Debate is that they are at the same time arguing for a veto under the Freedom of Information Act over what data they have to make public on the subject. This is hypocrisy: self-evidently, one cannot have informed debate without information, and one party to the debate should not be able to control access to the data.

Successive undercover investigations by the BUAV have demonstrated the reality for animals used in experiments and the often poor standards of care they face far more graphically than a series of student discussions. In addition, human health dictates the need for much greater transparency so that there can be rigorous discussion about what works and what does not: the record of animal research is often extremely poor, as more and more scientists are recognising.

If researchers at UK universities really have confidence in their ethical and scientific case, let them prove it by being truly open about their research and subject it to rigorous review, rather than simply constructing a carefully controlled “debate”.

Katy Taylor
Head of science
The BUAV
London

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