Non-existent ops

September 25, 1998

I am surprised that Michael Banner, chair of the UK's Animal Procedure Committee, is reported as being exercised by the question of transplanting pigs' hearts into chimpanzees ("Less death in the lab", THES, September 18). The use of chimpanzees and other great apes is banned in UK research.

Equally, Banner seems unaware that all studies have shown that an "opt out" system for donating organs can never meet the demand from over 6,000 patients in the UK on the transplant waiting list. This is why, while we should try to increase the number of human organ donors, xenotransplantation is being investigated as an alternative source.

Public debate on xenotransplantation and animal experimentation has not discounted "deeper moral reasoning". The problem is that all too often people are prepared to discount the facts on which such debate should be based.

Barbara Davies

Deputy director Research Defence Society

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