UK unis to release primate data

Five leading British research universities were ordered yesterday (Apr. 8) by the government to reveal information about experiments involving primates after a three-year battle with an animal rights organization. Image: flickr/thebuffafamilyThe ruling applies to Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester universities, plus University College London and King's College London. All five must now release the numbers and species of primates used in current and previous research dating back to 2004. Universit

By | April 9, 2009

Five leading British research universities were ordered yesterday (Apr. 8) by the government to reveal information about experiments involving primates after a three-year battle with an animal rights organization.
Image: flickr/thebuffafamily
The ruling applies to Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester universities, plus University College London and King's College London. All five must now release the numbers and species of primates used in current and previous research dating back to 2004. Universities regularly provide such data to the linkurl:Home Office's Science and Research Group;http://www.science.homeoffice.gov.uk/ under the linkurl:Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.;http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/legislation/ But while the Home Office routinely publishes linkurl:annual statistics;http://scienceandresearch.homeoffice.gov.uk/animal-research/publications-and-reference/statistics/?view=Standard of scientific procedures involving animals, it does not break down these numbers by institution. In July and August 2006, the linkurl:British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection;http://www.buav.org/ (BUAV) filed Freedom of Information Act requests from each of fourteen UK research universities. Most of them complied with the request or said that they didn't conduct primate research, but the five affected by this week's decision appealed on the grounds that disclosing the information could endanger the safety of their researchers. The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, dismissed this argument. "[He] ruled that releasing the information would not increase the risk to the physical health, mental health, or safety of any person," an linkurl:Information Commissioner's Office;http://www.ico.gov.uk/ spokesperson said in a statement. Extremist campaigns against animal research are "on-going regardless of this information request, and [Thomas] can see no evidence to suggest that the current threat would increase with the release of the information requested." "This is historic," BUAV's chief executive Michelle Thew told __The Scientist__. "All this research essentially happens behind closed doors and it's important that the public know what's actually done to animals in the laboratories." The universities said they will comply with the ruling to release the information, but they defended their decisions not to do so voluntarily. "The only reason why universities are reluctant to divulge such information is because there are individuals who use illegal and threatening tactics to intimidate researchers," a University of Manchester spokesperson said in a statement. A University College London spokesperson said in a statement: "While UCL aims to be as open and transparent as possible about our research, we also need to balance public interest issues against the fundamental need to protect our staff, who are carrying out lawful, regulated research."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:EU animal research under fire;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55523/
[25th March 2009]*linkurl:UK activists guilty of blackmail;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55320/
[23rd December 2008]*linkurl:Activists halt Oxford lab;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22297/
[20th July 2004]

Comments

Avatar of: Barbara Davies

Barbara Davies

Posts: 1

April 9, 2009

Why have you used a chimp image to illustrate this article? Anyone who knows anything about primate research knows that chimpanzees have not been used in UK research for at least 25 years.\n\nFor good, recent images of lab animals try http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/resources/images_library\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 8

April 10, 2009

Wanted to comment on the last sentence, which concludes with "lawful, regulated research".\n\nThe article implies that primate research, because it is lawful and regulated, should be considered acceptable by the general public.\n\nI would like to point out that "lawful, regulated research" does not necessarily indicate that there is consensus within the scientific community that such research and its regulations are ethical or moral. \n\nI'm glad to see any steps toward increasing transparency of primate research; I personally feel that it IS unethical and that nearly all primate research should be stopped immediately. (Caveat: nonviolent means only; violence toward researchers is unlikely to help in the struggle for animal rights.)\n\nRead Gary Francione.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 77

April 13, 2009

Those who oppose responsible research on non-human species do not appreciate that they probably would not be alive today without it and, if alive, certainly not as gifted with the numerous opportunities for their own fulfillment. It is one thing to assume the status quo as given, but quite another to deny future generations continued advances in understanding that will be as essential to their well-being as previous non-human research is to the current generation.

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