THIS week a pro-vivisection lobby group is staging what it calls an ‘open labs’ programme whereby students around the country have the chance of seeing an animal research lab.
But teachers and parents should be under no illusions about this initiative. Carefully screened pupils (who must consent to a background check by a security agency, should it be deemed necessary) will be given a tightly restricted tour of an animal laboratory, but they will emerge none the wiser about what really goes on there. Monkeys being subjected to invasive brain surgery or mice having their necks broken will no doubt be strictly off limits. The tours will probably be presented as a great feat of openness, but this is seriously undermined by the secrecy clause in UK law that is used to prevent even the most basic information about animal experiments from being released. If participating institutions are genuinely committed to openness, they should urge policy makers to repeal the secrecy clause and allow public access to information about animal experiments.