City university defends ‘cruel’ tests on animals

A follow-up to the item posted the other day via the Independent: “Universities accused of cruel animal tests” – The University of Liverpool, mentioned in the report, defend themselves:

City university defends ‘cruel’ tests on animals
Apr 13 2007
by Caroline Innes, Liverpool Daily Post

THE University of Liverpool last night defended the use of animal testing, after the institution was accused of conducting “cruel and unnecessary” experiments using banned drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.

A report by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) also attacks the Home Office for granting licences for the research to the region’s universities.

The union claimed animals were made to undertake a range of “bizarre” activities under the influence of drugs, such as burying marbles and swimming in vats of milk, in tests by several universities.

An estimated £10m had been spent on the experiments in the past 10 years, said the BUAV, which based its findings on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

As well as Liverpool, Cambridge University was singled out for conducting “frivolous” tests on mice.

One involved combining lethal doses of methamphetamine, or “crystal meth”, and loud music from Bach and the dance band The Prodigy.

Frivolous ? More like downright weird…

The article continues:

…But Liverpool academics defended the validity and cost implications of such tests which they claimed were necessary to develop new treatments for disorders caused by drugs in humans.

A spokeswoman said any test carried out at the university on animals would only be done if there were significant benefits to be obtained for human health.

She said: “Studying the ways in which drugs affect the brain provides a window into both normal and abnormal function and thereby unique opportunities to develop new treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

“It is not possible, for ethical reasons, to study the development of drug addiction in humans and so scientists first need to understand where and how legal and illegal drugs affect the brain.”

Animal testing of alcohol, tobacco and cosmetics is banned in the UK, but testing drugs is not.

BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew said: “I think people will be appalled that public money is being used to fund such unnecessary and cruel animal tests.

“Surely public funds would be better spent on relevant, ethical human volunteer research, improving drug rehabilitation centres and supporting families dealing with drug abuse.”

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