Letter: New life for animals

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Opinions are divided over the merit of Barry Horne's hunger strike. I wonder, however, what this strategy could possibly achieve. The animal rights movement will claim martyrdom but what will his actions do for medical research?

It was horrifying to read in national newspapers the names of individual scientists who have been threatened with assassination. They are among a small group of scientists who are brave enough to speak out on behalf of the medical and scientific communities about their research and the important contribution that animals make in the advancement of medicine. What right, therefore, does anyone have to threaten with death those whose ambition it is to help relieve human suffering? The appalling behaviour demonstrated by animal rights extremists is nothing less than terrorism. How can it be tolerated?

The use of animals in medical research is a major issue of concern to the public as well as doctors and scientists. In the UK, where this level of concern has led to the most stringent laboratory regulations in the world, there is still scope for public debate. Threats of death, however, surely serve only to discourage doctors and scientists from speaking publicly. Can we blame them? Such violent tactics must be condemned in order that proper discussion can take place and that, in the long term, choices can be made about the future of medical research based on reasoned arguments and hard facts.

ELAINE JAMES

London SW11

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