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Anger at secret monkey BSE tests

http://observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,560616,00.html

Anger at secret monkey BSE tests

Andrew Osborn Sunday September 30, 2001 The Observer

European Union scientists have secretly given their blessing to controversial experiments in which live monkeys will be infected with mad cow disease. In a move that has outraged animal rights campaigners, the EU's most powerful scientific committee has concluded that 'important and valuable information' can be gained from such experiments.

They believe the information will help scientists better understand how BSE is caught, particularly by humans. The monkeys will be fed brain matter from British and French meat infected with BSE.

The Observer has learnt that the European Commission, which relies on the panel for advice, chose not to publicise the news despite new rules over public access to information.

It chose instead to bury the contentious opinion on an obscure page on the internet and did not issue a press release despite the fact that it is routine practice to do so for significant opinions from the Scientific Steering Committee.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) has reacted with fury to the news and said it was appalled to learn that the EU had approved the use of primates in what it considers to be barbaric experiments.

'At a time when the moral justification for using primates is being questioned this is clearly a backward step and will cause hideous suffering to the animals involved,' said Sarah Kite, BUAV's information director. 'This research is likely to be misleading in trying to find a cure for this human disease. Scientists are now realising that even using our closest relatives, chimps, in Aids research is misleading.'

The committee stopped short of giving the go-ahead for large scale experimentation on chimps although they did approve the use of chimps for 'future vaccine strategy evaluation.'

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