A message from our US sister organisations: Speaking of Research and Pro-Test for Science:
Promoting Science and Rejecting Extremism
In 2009, Pro-Test for Science held an historic rally on the UCLA campus; bringing over 700 people onto the streets in support of the scientists and researchers who carry out lifesaving medical research using laboratory animals. Such research continues to advance scientific knowledge and plays a vital role in the development of innovative treatments for human disease. However, animal rights extremists have continued to escalate their threats against researchers and their families.
On Thursday April 8th Pro-Test for Science will respond by rallying students, scientists and members of the public to support the cause of medical science. We call on the community to stand together against the recent tide of animal rights activism which has worked to misrepresent research and coerce those that carry it out.
David Jentsch, founder of Pro-Test for Science, said:
“The scientific community has joined together to push back against those who seek to stall advances in biomedicine. Never before has it been more important to continue these efforts so that humane biomedical research can continue unhindered by the misguided threats of a minority who oppose it.”
This rally, on the UCLA campus seeks to:
- Communicate a better understanding of animal research to the public, its importance to medical progress, and what we all stand to lose if such work were to stop
- Celebrate the successes of animal research in the development of treatments for disease, new diagnostic procedures/instruments, and surgical techniques.
- Defend the rights of researchers to pursue their work free from harassment and intimidation.
The rally will begin on Thursday April 8th at 11:30 AM, on the north-east corner of Westwood Blvd. and Le Conte Ave., which will be followed by a march to Wilson Plaza, where speakers include UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh and Dr. Kevin Quinn from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Please check www.speakingofresearch.com and www.pro-test-for-science.org regularly for updates and further communications. For further information contact:
David Jentsch – firstname.lastname@example.org – +1 310 825 8258
Tom Holder – email@example.com - +1 310 498 0881
Notes to Editors:
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- The rally will take place from 11:30am, Thurday April 8th 2010 on the north-east corner of Westwood Blvd and Le Conte Ave.
- Further speakers are to be confirmed
- Report of the 2009 rally: http://speakingofresearch.com/get-involved/ucla-pro-test/ http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/West-Side-Story-Scientists-Activists-Face-Off-at-UCLA.html
- Pro-test for Science was formed in March 2009 by David Jentsch:
MEPs vote for medical progress
Yesterday Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted by a overwhelming majority to approve a report submitted by the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee on proposed revisions to EU directive 86/609, the EU rules that ensure the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The report approved by MEPs makes several welcome changes to earlier proposals for the long-awaited revision of EU directive 86/609 that were put forward by the EU Commission last year. We are delighted to learn that MEPs have listened to the many scientists, charities and patients who have discussed with them the potential impact of these revisions on scientific research with them over the course of the past few months and have asked them to remember the patients when they cast their vote. They clearly agree with Sir Terry Pratchett, who while speaking on behalf of Remember the Patients recently said:
"There's only two ways it can go: researchers, with as much help you can give them, may come up with something that reduces the effects of this dreadful, inhuman disease, or we will have to face the consequences of our failure to prevent the final years of many of us being a long bad dream."
MEPs have voted to remove articles that would have increased bureaucratic burden placed in scientists without improving the welfare of animals, for example by extending the scope of the directive to include hens eggs and microscopic crustaceans, and have also voted to amend an article that would have prevented monkeys from being used in important basic research that seeks to illuminate the processes that are involved in diseases such as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.
On hearing of the vote Professor Tipu Aziz, Oxford neuroscientist and Pro-Test science advisor said:
"With this vote MEPs are sending a clear message to the national governments that they want Europe to remain at the forefront of 21st century medical science, while also demonstrating their solidarity with the many patients who await the development of new treatments and cures"
While not perfect the proposed revisions to EU directive 86/609 that have been approved by the European parliament strike a good balance between encouraging and facilitating high quality medical research in Europe and protecting the welfare of the animals used in that research. They will now go back to the EU commission and then to the European Council of Ministers, and these bodies may either choose to accept the amendments made by the Parliament, at which point the revisions will become law, or reject and further amend some, which would trigger a further round of debate and voting. It is therefore crucial that the scientific community continues to engage with Europes politicians on this issue to safeguard the progress that has been achieved.
Pro-Test welcomes this vote and thanks the MEPs for voting to support and protect the future of medical research in Europe. Without such research medical advances for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s would be at a huge disadvantage.
Looking closer to home we are pleased to see that Oxford University has published the number of primates it uses for animal experiments, but it is a pity that it took a Freedom of Information request by the BUAV to compel them to do so. Universities and other institutions that conduct animal research should strive to be as open and transparent as possible about the work that their scientists do, and while we acknowledge that there is still a need to protect staff and scientists from animal rights extremists care must be taken to ensure that the necessary precautions do not stand in the way of efforts to improve communication and dialogue. Despite the threat from extremists Oxford University has made great strides towards increased openness in recent years, even inviting documentary makers to film in its laboratories, and we hope that with the publication of these statistics it will redouble these laudable efforts.
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UCLA Stands Up for Science
Pro-Test salutes the 800 academics, citizens and students who rallied yesterday to show support for scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) who have faced threats, harassment and arson from animal rights extremists. UCLA Pro-Test, an organisation founded by neuroscientist David Jentsch, and a number of other scientists who have also been the victims of animal rights extremism in California, made a decisive stand for animal research and sent a clear message to animal rights extremists that "enough is enough".
As the rally stretched close to a quarter of a mile long Jentsch remarked that "I hope this rally lessens the sense of helplessness and fear that has pervaded our community, We’re just not going to take the harassment anymore", while fellow neuroscientist Neurology Professor Claude Westerlain, who uses animals in his research on epilepsy, said he came to the rally to oppose the terror tactics that some of his colleagues have faced.
"Even the [activists] with good intentions are mistaken when they say there is no need for animal research. There is no way to do research on epilepsy without animals, and the suffering we relieve is enormous. Animal research saves lives. There is no medical progress without it."
Among those attending the rally was UCLA neuroscientist Dario Ringach, who announced in 2006 that he would give up his animal research if activists would stop harassing him and his family but is now a member of the UCLA Pro-Test committee.
"I came because I don't think people should have to face a choice between the security of their family and their research" he said "I came to defend academic research and academic freedom."
UK Pro-Test member, Tom Holder, who recently founded Pro-Test's sister organisation in the US, Speaking of Research, flew across to the US to assist with the rally. Speaking at the rally he announced The Pro-Test Petition which supports biomedical research and condemns violent tactics used to campaign against it.
Well done to everyone who joined the Pro-Test UCLA rally, and especially to those brave scientists who made it happen!
Things have also also been busy on this side of the pond.
First the good news from Cancer Research UK that deaths from breast cancer are at their lowest levels for 40 years, an achievement that can be attributed to both improvements in screening that allows tumours to be detected earlier and new treatments discovered through animal research.
Second, as you may have heard the European Union is currently engaged in a much needed overhaul of its rules on the use of animals in medical research, and at the beginning of May MEPs will debate the proposed revisions in a plenary session of the EU Parliament. This revision is an opportunity to shape the future of medical research in Europe, if the new rules are sensible they will safeguard animal welfare while encouraging and facilitating top class research, if not then they have the potential to stifle much vital research throughout the EU and turn Europe into a medical research backwater. So if you haven't done so already we strongly encourage you to write to your MEPs and remind them to Remember the Patients when they vote in two weeks time.
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Let Europe hear your voice: time to write to your MEP
The European Union is in the process of updating the laws governing medical research using animals across the EU (Directive 86/609), a revision that is necessary because the regulations included in Directive 86/609 when it was adopted in 1986 have failed to keep pace with the rapid pace of scientific and technological change over the past two decades. For example they do not adequately address the use of transgenic animals that are so important to many fields of medical research today, but which were only just becoming available in 1986.
In November the EU Commission published its proposals for over 100 revisions to Directive 86/609, and while these included many welcome improvements there were also some proposals that would have harmed European science through bureaucratic overload and overly tight limits on research involving monkeys. Happily the EU Parliament's Agriculture committee subsequently suggested several changes to the revisions in its report that have reassured many in the scientific community about the possible impact of the new laws on medical research in Europe.
On the 4th-7th May the European Parliament in plenary session will consider revisions proposed by the Commission, the amendments proposed in the Agriculture Committee report and some or all of those proposed by the Industry and Research Committee, which was given associated committee status due to its role in developing science policy . More amendments can also be proposed, either by the EU parliamentary political groups or by the signature of any 37 MEPs, so it's likely to be a very lively debate.
Make no mistake about it, while this is by no means the final stage in the long EU legislative process it is the most crucial stage; the revisions that are agreed in the plenary session are likely to become law with at most minor changes. Until now the task of making the case for animal research has been left mainly to the scientists who can discuss the detail of their work with MEPs, and warn them of the detrimental effects that the more ill-conceived revisions might have. While their efforts have met with considerable success animal rights organizations will now be working overtime to undo these gains, and this is where you can make a difference.
MEPs need to hear your voice!
To help you to make your voice heard we have formed a partnership with Understanding Animal Research through their Remember the Patients campaign. We encourage you to write to your local MEPs and tell them why you think it is vital that the future of animal research in Europe is safeguarded, and how you or members of your family have benefited from medical advances made through animal research. Remember the Patients has information on how to find your local MEPs and suggestions about what you should say in your letter or e-mail.
Please take the time to write to your MEPs, this really is a once in a decade opportunity to help shape policy on animal research throughout the EU and ensure that Europe plays a leading role in the future of medicine.
More information about the revisions to Directive 86/609 can be found on the European Coalition for Biomedical Research website.
Further information on the contribution of animal research to medical progress is available on AnimalResearch.info
A detailed explanation of why research using monkeys is still necessary has been published by the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks
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Storm clouds are gathering for a clash of wills during the upcoming World Week for Animals in Laboratories. However the battle will not be played out in the streets of Oxford, or elsewhere in Britain, but instead at the University College of Los Angeles (UCLA). Animal Rights groups are organizing a rally at the UCLA campus on April 22nd, but their lies and misinformation will go unchallenged no longer. UCLA Pro-Test, an organization of students and scientists is gathering on this very same day for a Pro-Research, Pro-Science demonstration to stand up against animal rights extremism and explain the crucially important role than animals play in medical research.
David Jentsch, and a number of other scientists who have also been the victims of animal rights extremism in California have decided to take a stand. With the support of Speaking of Research, and us at Pro-Test, they are organising a demonstration to show that the students and scientists of UCLA and its neighbouring universities support animal-based medical research.
On Wednesday, 22nd April 2009, at 11:30 we call for all students, scientists and members of the public in California and beyond, to make their way to the UCLA campus and meet at the junction of Westwood Blvd and Le Conte Ave. Stand up for Science, Research and the Medicines of Tomorrow - Stand up and have your voice heard at the UCLA Pro-Test rally!!
Keep updated through the UCLA Pro-Test page on our US sister website - Speaking of Research.
"It's very exciting that students, scientists, patients and members of the public on both sides of the Atlantic are willing to stand up in support of the continuing importance of animal based research" - Laurie Pycroft, Pro-test Founder
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