ON his website, Neil Parish, who represents the South West in the European Parliament, proclaims his animal welfare credentials.
Sadly, they appear not to extend to laboratory animals. Mr Parish has written a report for the key committee involved in revising the European animal experiments law and therefore carries considerable influence. The report is deeply disappointing, playing to the tune of the multi-billion pound animal research industry which wants to be able to carry on exactly as before.
Astonishingly, Mr Parish does not even think that companies should have to get permission to experiment on animals from governments in the vast majority of cases, a key part of the UK system. And, although he pays lip service to the need for greater openness, his approach will result in very little.
Above all, there is no strategy to achieve the objective which he and everyone else say they want, the eventual elimination of animal experiments. Mr Parish and his colleagues are way out of step with public opinion. A very recent opinion poll by YouGov in six European countries shows large majorities wanting a ban on experiments on monkeys, cats and dogs and severe suffering, and a large majority wanting much more openness. Even where people are prepared to tolerate animal experiments, it is only for life-threatening or serious human conditions, not for the swathe of other purposes for which they are carried out.
There is still time to write to Mr Parish before a key meeting later this month. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHARON HOWE Fortescue Road Sidmouth Devon