Firms honour animal testing chief

The UK's biotech industry delivered a defiant message in favour of animal testing last night by honouring Colin Blakemore, the head of the Medical Research Council who was passed over for an award in the New Year Honours list.

Professor Blakemore was given an award for an "outstanding contribution to UK bioscience" by the BioIndustry Association - a calculated dig at the Government's refusal to grant the knighthood that usually goes with his job. Civil service documents leaked last month showed the honour had been deemed too controversial because of the professor's outspoken support for vivisection.

Presenting the award, David Chiswell, the chairman of the BIA, said: "One of our priorities this year is to continue to push for a single piece of legislation to combat extreme animal activism. This has become even more crucial given the announcement this week that the planned Cambridge primate research facility will not go ahead, due to intimidatory tactics, fear and excessive security costs generated by animal extremist groups."

The BIA represents entrepreneurial British companies working to develop novel drugs for cancer, neurological diseases and other medical problems, work which it says has to be carried out on animals.

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