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May 24, 2006

Public Meeting - a great success!

Monday 22 May saw 100 people join the Pro-Test committee at the Oxford Town Hall to hear the scientific and ethical cases for animal research. The expert panel included Prof Andrew McMichael (researching an AIDS vaccine using monkeys), Dr Ken Fleming (head of Oxford University's Medical Science Division), Dr Evan Harris MP (LibDem Science spokesman), Niki Shisler (bestselling author and mother of a child with a rare form of muscular dystrophy), and Vicky Cowell (Director of Patients' Voice for Medical Advance). Chris Bickerton and Laurie Pycroft from Pro-Test also gave speeches explaining the formation and evolution of our campaign and why we believe a positive, public defence of science and animal research is necessary in today's climate.



The atmosphere was friendly and civilised - in marked distinction to the last time scientists tried to defend their work at the Town Hall, when they were barracked by masses of anti-vivisectionists, who hissed at and taunted Parkison's sufferer Mike Robins, who had come along to explain how research on animals had led to a device that had transformed his life, calling him a 'Nazi' and telling him to 'roll over and die'. In encouraging people to attend this time, we found many people feared a repetition of these events, and even that a list of attendees could fall into the hands of extremists. We are glad to report such fears were quite unfounded. A majority of the audience were scientists themselves and it was fantastic to see so many of them out in force to talk about their work. It represents an important strike against the climate of fear and intimidation that has silenced many scientists and allowed animal rights extremists to hold hostage the public debate on vivisection.

Questions from the floor were taken after the speeches, with people from both sides of the debate participating. The audience had the opportunity to learn about some of the cutting-edge research going on in Oxford and why it requires the use of animals, the glowing record of animal research at Oxford and the prospects for a new 'golden age' of medicine, what the new facilities on South Parks Road will incorporate, how animal research is regulated, and the ethics of animal testing. Members of the audience also asked about the University's latest attempts to gain injunctions against SPEAK, raising concerns that they had gone too far in trying to limit freedom of speech. The audience heard how Pro-Test seeks to offer an alternative solution to the dominance of anti-vivisections in the debate on animal research -- a positive, public defence of the merits and benefits of vivisection and a popular movement that aims to bring out scientists, students, patients, members of the public and politicians to stand up against irrational, unscientific arguments and to demand the continuation of scientific and medical progress.

Click on the names below to see copies of the speeches (added when available). Recordings of the speeches are now available, thanks to freelance journalist Kieren McCarthy.
- Laurie Pycroft [listen]
- Prof Andrew McMichael
[listen]
- Dr Ken Fleming [listen]
- Niki Shisler [listen]
- Vicky Cowell [listen]
- Chris Bickerton [listen]
- Dr Evan Harris [listen]

posted by Lee at 9:35 PM  

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This is blog is where you can find out information about the activities of the pro-animal testing campaign group, Pro-Test, and links to media coverage.

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