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Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 22:28 GMT 23:28 UK
Blair's backing for science
Animal rights protest
Tony Blair is concerned about "misguided" protests
Science must be defended against "misguided protests" by groups including animal rights protesters and environmentalists, Tony Blair has said.

The UK prime minister said legitimate research was being disrupted at the expense of economic and medical progress.

Speaking to The Times newspaper, Mr Blair vowed to stop campaigners standing in the way of breakthroughs and said: "It is time to speak up for science."


It is completely unacceptable for people to try to disrupt and destroy legitimate research

Tony Blair
In a speech on the subject on Thursday he will promise to continue investment in research and development and work to end the suspicion and mistrust created by public ignorance.

He was especially critical of those who labelled genetically modified crops "Frankenstein food" and blamed scientists for the BSE crisis.

According to the newspaper, Mr Blair is privately "furious" at environmental protests which have stopped GM crop trials and neurological research in Cambridge to help Alzheimer's disease victims.

He said: "It is completely unacceptable for people to try to disrupt and destroy legitimate research on which these issues will ultimately be judged.

"It is time to defend science, to make clear that the government is not going to allow misguided protests against science to get in the way of confronting the challenges of making the most of our opportunities."

Opportunities

In his speech the prime minister will claim that research work could be lost across Europe if the activities of animal research groups go unchallenged.

It is thought that Mr Blair has been working on the speech since a visit to India around the New Year.

The Prime Minister says he was struck on that visit by the partnership between industry and science and the opportunities it opens up.

See also:

06 May 02 | England
Pink castle 'blocks' GM crop tests
06 May 02 | Scotland
Three arrested over GM raids
28 Apr 02 | Scotland
Third attack on GM crop site
27 Apr 02 | Scotland
Second attack on GM crop site
27 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
GM safety tests 'flawed'
16 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Minister defends animal experiments
23 Mar 02 | England
Animal export protest starts
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