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Scientists back testing after guinea pig breeder forced to close

Published on 06/09/05 at 01:19pm

UK scientists have rallied to support animal research after a six-year campaign against Staffordshire guinea pig breeder Darley Oaks Farm forced its closure.

Over 500 leading members of the UK's scientific community signed a declaration promoting the benefits of medical advances made possible by animal testing.

The declaration by medical research campaign group RDS also stated that researchers should minimise animal suffering and distress and use non-animal methods wherever possible.

Darley Oaks Farm bred guinea pigs for use in research for new respiratory disease treatments but had been the target of a six-year campaign by activists which grew increasingly violent.

Commenting on the closure Dr Philip Wright, director of science and technology at the ABPI, said: "Guinea pigs have provided essential information to support biomedical research into respiratory disease resulting in real breakthroughs in the development of new medicines."

He said greater protection of individuals and companies targeted by activists was needed and called for the government to commit long-term resources to support recently introduced legislation.

The Hall family, who own Darley Oaks, have faced a campaign of mounting threats and intimidation, including death threats, letter bombs and the theft of a relative's remains from her grave.

The farm's closure has spurred on activists to close Huntingdon Life Sciences -  well-known group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty said the news was "history in the making".

Government legislation was introduced in February to curb illegal attacks by animal rights extremists. Although their activities appeared to have been scaled back, this year has seen an escalation in the level of violence of the attacks.

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