We are not scary 1

February 20, 2004

Secrecy and paranoia over experiments on animals predates the radical animal rights movement ("Scare tactics silence science", February 6).

In 1965, the government's Littlewood committee noted that there had been an "appearance of secrecy about the practice of animal experimentation" and that Home Office inspectors "have tended to discourage laboratory authorities from inviting individuals or the press to any animal houses".

In 1974, guidance notes compiled by the Home Office and the pro-vivisection Research Defence Society lobby group recommended that researchers "aim at a closed community in a self-contained unit with private lift or entrance(s) for staff not overlooked or, if so, fitted with opaque windows". Such premises should be "out of sight of the general public and afforded minimal publicity". The paraphernalia for secrecy and paranoia is not to defend experimenters from "the extremist minority" but from the majority of the public, whom opinion polls show are against animal experiments.

What is rarely reported is that our victory came not by force but by a united animal advocacy lobby focused on sustained campaigning and reasoned argument. The 2002 public inquiry into Cambridge University's plans for a new primate research centre heard scientific evidence for and against using primates in research. The inspector ruled in our favour.

Andrew Tyler
Director, Animal Aid

Wendy Higgins
Campaigns director, British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

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