Letter: GM pig rules

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The Independent Online
AS THE Home Office Minister responsible for the use of animals in experiments and other scientific procedures, I read "Video shows `human' gene pigs in lab" (4 July), on the care and accommodation of genetically modified pigs, with surprise and disappointment.

The allegations made by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) are serious and, as I announced in Parliament on Monday, I have launched an investigation into these matters. If any contraventions of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, of the terms of licences and certificates of designation, or of published Home Office codes of practice are substantiated, then appropriate action will be taken.

My surprise stems from some of the comments attributed to a representative of the BUAV and to Norman Baker MP. Mr Baker takes a keen interest in the use of animals in scientific procedures and has often raised the issue in the Commons. From the information I have publicly provided him, he will know that the breeding of all genetically modified animals is a regulated procedure under the 1986 Act. Far from existing in a "legal vacuum", the care and use of these animals is subject to legal and administrative controls - arguably the most stringent in the world.

With regard to the BUAV, civil servants spent several hours recently explaining to representatives of that organisation how the breeding, care and use of these particular animals are controlled and discussing how their concerns were being addressed in an additional code of practice, specific to these animals, that is already in preparation.

GEORGE HOWARTH

Home Office

London SW1

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