Scientists are warning that a new campaign by animal rights activists, aimed at the companies involved in the transport of laboratory animals, threatens to undermine research into new cures and treatments for disease.
Lord Drayson, former science minister who set up the Office for Life Sciences, told the Today programme's Evan Davis that "we need to recognize that it is not possible to develop new medicines without doing research".
"Unfortunately we do have to do this", he added.
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, geneticist at the National Institute for Medical Research, said that in reality the number of imported animals such as mice that are used in research is very small because a pair are bred when they are brought into a lab.
He explained that while the number of procedures to these animals may appear high, the vast majority of these procedures are breeding.
Lord Drayson said that "it is not about the government stepping in to provide a solution but society as a whole needs to recognise that if we wish this work to be done then we need to support those parts of community that have to do their particular part of process to get it done."
He went on to say that extremists have been successful in identifying weak links in the chain like ferry companies to stop the process.
Lord Drayson called on the government to work with the transport industry to get agreement that all transport companies will support importing animals for scientific research so "people can not be picked off".
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