Syringe-armed animal rights activists: say NO to Cambridge’s “animal torture lab”
The University is partnering with AstraZeneca over a new cancer lab – and local activists couldn’t be less happy.
In a bizarre stunt in Market Square, a man dressed up as a giant “mouse” and injected a white-haired “scientist” with a syringe.
The protest was planned by a local anti-AstraZeneca group, as well as National Operation Anti-Vivisection, who have previously offered to pay Cambridge University student to spy on peers conducting animal experiments in the labs.
A NOAV, Anonymous-style video here threatens to “target any and all organisations involved in this project”, adding that “there is nowhere to run and there is nowhere to hide”.
The angry protesters took to the streets on 12 December to express their outrage at the planned “animal torture lab”.
Rachel Mathai, a local activist who was arrested in 2014 for being a public nuiscance in a pro-lobster protest, told The Tab that the event, held on International Animals Rights Day, was to shed light on the pharma giant’s “inhumane, unnecessary experiments on over a quarter of a million animals each year”.
Rachel continued: “Animal testing is cruel, unnecessary, outdated and inaccurate … AstraZeneca claims high standards of animal welfare but the project licences granted allow them to cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.”
These protests are timed to build opposition to the planned construction of an AstraZeneca animal laboratory on Cambridge’s biomedical campus.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson told The Tab: ““Our new centre in Cambridge will include a purpose-designed rodent facility. The studies carried out there will principally support our early stage cancer research.”
Mathai took aim at the University’s close relationship with the multi-national corporation: “Cambridge University itself experiments on over 165,000 animals every year. By linking itself with AstraZeneca, Cambridge University can expect to be the target of peaceful but passionate protest. One of the first moves Cambridge University should make is to drop all association with AstraZeneca.”
The two hugely influential behemoths cemented their loving relationship over the summer and announced a partnership that would entail doing a fair amount of complicated (read: incomprehensible) research together.
CAP’s spokesperson proposed other methods, such as “in vitro methods, advanced computer modelling techniques”.
Responding to such criticism, the AstraZeneca spokesperson told us: “Wherever possible, we use non-animal methods … that eliminate the need to use animals early in drug development, or reduce the number needed. However, animal studies are still an essential part of the research process and are also required by regulators before they approve a new medicine to be tested in humans.”
Similarly, the University defended the use of animal testing: “Some of the most important and pioneering work for which Cambridge is best known and which has led to major improvements in people’s lives was only possible using animals”. These innovations include the development of IVF.
It isn’t just AstraZeneca in this whole saga who have come under heavy scrutiny in the past few years.
NOAV, one of the campaigns protesting this lab, have previously used unnecessarily aggressive techniques in opposition to animal testing in the university. Students at the university were invited in 2014 to spy on fellow students who were carrying out vivisection experiments on animals in exchange for money.
Animal rights extremists offered money in exchange for personal details, including names, addresses, pictures, phone numbers and emails of people involved in vivisection.
One medical student described the group as “repulsive, unthinking terrorists”.
William Evans, a spokesperson for NOAV, told The Tab they have “built strong relationships with research students who provide key intelligence to the campaign about the University and its use of animals and who will be seeking to obtain jobs within AstraZeneca in due course.”