LibLink: Layla Moran: Six ways to break British research

All parliamentary candidates are being deluged by emails from organisations and constituents on a huge range of subjects. One particular missive comes from Vote Cruelty Free which encourages candidates to sign up to the following six pledges:

1) Ban experiments on cats and dogs.
2) End the secrecy surrounding animal experiments.
3) Stop importing monkeys for use in laboratories.
4) End non-medical experiments.
5) Stop genetically modifying animals.
6) Stop suffering in the most extreme experiments.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon has written an article for the Our Kingdom website in which she looks at these pledges and explains why she can’t sign up for them because of the effect it would have on British research and ultimately be worse for animals as research is driven to parts of the world where animal welfare is not taken as seriously as it is here.

First, a general overview and the benefits of well-regulated life science research:

On February 24, Britain took the historic step of legislating to make mitochondrial donation therapy possible, offering hope to those carrying mitochondrial defects and creating the possibility for them to have children without passing on the diseases that currently afflict — and usually kill — over 100 babies each year. But medical progress depends on a global ecosystem of life sciences research. Development of novel techniques to a level where mitochondrial donation could be trialled in humans relied on earlier studies using macaques, for example.

Britain is at the forefront of much of this research and, in addition, currently has the highest animal welfare standards worldwide. It is already illegal to conduct animal experiments if an alternative exists and illegal to use cats or dogs if a different animal could be used. Research on animals for cosmetics or on great apes for any application is banned outright. I’m proud that the UK has such high standards and proud that the Liberal Democrats have worked hard in the UK and Europe to drive further improvements.

And then she tackles the substance of the 6 pledges:

Firstly, there are problems with demanding that animal procedures should only be used to test new human medicines. Developing treatments requires an understanding of physiology and disease as well as their interaction with drugs or vaccines. Without progress in basic research, the development of new therapies would be almost impossible. This policy would also halt veterinary and conservation research based on animal studies, which could lead to unnecessary suffering of pets, farm animals and endangered species. The option to use vaccines to treat badgers and cattle for TB instead of resorting to an expensive and damaging cull exists only because of these “non-medical” studies.

Secondly, banning genetic modification could increase the number of animal procedures required as it would reduce researchers’ ability to precisely control physiological variables, as well as removing tools such as tracking the spread of cancers or other defects with marker molecules such as green fluorescent protein (GFP).

Finally we should consider the UK’s position in the global research community: our reputation as a leading place to conduct responsible life sciences research allows us to set an example on animal welfare regulation and management overseas. Adopting the proposals above would rule out over 88% of animal research in the UK, meaning that life science companies would likely move their operations elsewhere to countries with less strict controls, to say nothing of the economic costs to the country

You can read the whole article here.

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2 Comments

  • As a protein biochemist I agree with Layla and disagree with Adrian.

    Fundamental research underpins any medical advances.The Greens would ban ALL research using animals.( Policy AR414). Goodbye UK Life Science research.

    They would also ban xenotransplantation , so too bad for the thousands of over 65s in the UKwho rely on animal derived heart valves to keep them alive.

    If you use modern medicine or surgery but oppose use of animals in research, you are a hypocrite.

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