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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 13:20 GMT
Head to head: Animal research lab
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Oxford University students are taking to the streets of Oxford to protest in support of an 18m biomedical research lab which will conduct experiments on animals.

Alistair Currie, campaigns manager for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, and Iain Simpson, of Pro-Test, appeared on BBC News 24 to argue their points of view.

IN FAVOUR OF TESTING

Iain Simpson is a member of Pro-Test, which is in favour of the new lab.

Basically we want to get out there and make the point that at the moment medical research involving animals is essential if medical science is to move forward.

We're hoping for a good turn-out today. It's kind of hard to guess what it's going to be in advance, but hopefully we'll have quite a few students turn up and try and get their voice out there.

We'll have to see what happens. We're out there to make an entirely peaceful protest and get our message across.

A lot of money and time has been put into looking for alternatives for animal testing, and we hope that one day there will be a time when it is no longer necessary. Whether it's scientifically necessary at the moment, I think that's a scientific judgement.

I will defer to the vast majority of scientists publishing in peer review journals who are of the opinion that for the time being it is necessary.

I think increasingly we are seeing a move towards methods of scientific research that don't involve using animals, but we have to remember there are limits to what we can do in terms of stuff like computer models.

OPPOSED TO TESTING

A lab mouse on a glove (BBC)
Alistair Currie is the campaigns manager for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and is against animal research.

We respect the right of these protesters to go out there and stand up for what they believe in, but what they believe in is something unfortunately neither morally nor scientifically justifiable.

Essentially there's a fundamental flaw with animal research - what you learn is what happens to animals, not to human beings.

It is possible to say millions of animal experiments are conducted around the world each year. Every so often you throw that mud at the wall, some of it sticks.

But is that a productive, effective or safe way of generating new medicines or doing research? It isn't. It belongs in the past.

It's also, quite frankly, not justifiable. The notion that if we hurt animals that's OK because it benefits us is a crazy notion... it really doesn't stand up to scrutiny. I think it's a shame that people are actually taking to the street to defend that principle.

Unfortunately, at the moment, all drugs are tested on animals. And we wouldn't say to anybody 'don't take drugs' , they don't have an option here. What we are saying is 'as we move forward in the future what are the most effective and efficient ways of producing the cures that we all obviously want and support?' We don't think this is the way."



SEE ALSO:
Testing on animals is 'essential'
25 Feb 06 |  Oxfordshire
The pro-test protesters
22 Feb 06 |  Magazine
'Animal testing? No thanks'
24 Feb 06 |  Magazine
GM animal tests continue to rise
08 Dec 05 |  Science/Nature


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