Pro-Test: Standing Up For Science
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25/06/06

Permalink 08:18:00 pm, by admin Email , 361 words, 1484 views   English (UK)
Categories: Information

Nothing to hide, so why hide it?

The press has continued to report Home Office figures showing the total number of animal research procedures has increased for the first time in 14 years, as explained in the previous blog entry. Today, the Oxford Mail asked Oxford University if it would release details of the number of animals used in its laboratories. Its spokesman said:

"We will not be releasing a breakdown of the figures because we are concerned about possible retribution from animal activists."

This is an incredible statement for all sorts of reasons. First, universities simply don't release breakdowns of figures, anyway. The figures are compiled by the Home Office and individual institutions do not publish their own figures. So the remark betrays considerable ignorance.

But more importantly than that, it betrays the University's continued refusal to come out fighting in defence of its academics and the huge contributions they make to science and to society. Months after Pro-Test first urged them to end their ostrich strategy and help make the positive case for animal research, they are still burying their heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. It won't, until people are convinced of the positive reasons why they should support continued animal research in the UK.

Pro-Test believes in openness, because scientists have nothing to be ashamed of, and the more information people have, the less ammunition is lent to anti-science campaign groups who can claim that the university has something to hide. We are proud of the work Oxford's scientists do, even if their own university isn't. And finally, saying "we don't want you to know something that will make you attack us", is tantamount to saying the university deserves to be attacked -- the use of the word "retribution" actively concedes that the university is doing something wrong!

Retribution, noun, 1. the act of punishing or taking vengeance for sin or wrongdoing; 2. deserved punishment, especially for sin or wrongdoing; vengeance (Chambers English Dictionary).

It's high time Oxford University ditched this hyper-defensive attitude and proudly stood up for its scientists and the work they do. Their failure to do so is the only "sin or wrongdoing" being committed here.

Originally Posted by Lee.

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