Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary memorandum from Dr Kathleen Mathers, Medical Research Council


  I am the Head of the Division of Biological Services at the MRC's NIMR that provides and manages the laboratory animal resource to 17 of the Scientific Divisions at the NIMR.

  At the Evidence Session on 1 December Professor Blakemore commented on both the animal and the Containment IV laboratories. With regard to the animal facilities he stated that: "Frankly, I feel that it would be an extraordinary admission if we had to say that our long-term vision of the future and the health of science in this country were going to be determined by the actions and the attitudes of a few extremists. We have to do what we think is right, and if that involves building new animal facilities in central London we will do it." No one disagrees that the actions of extremists should dictate the policy of science. However, it must be recognised that this is likely to be a real and expensive problem. I am much more concerned, however, with the welfare implications of executing a move from the Mill Hill site to a new site, especially if a move is to an established unit that offers no more potential for expansion, adaptability and flexibility. It will take an enormous amount of effort to move the animals from the current site and will involve large numbers of animals being wasted—a new facility must be demonstrably better than the current modern and efficient facilities at Mill Hill.

  When referring to the Containment IV facilities Professor Blakemore said "As I understand it, there is no work at the moment in that facility, . . ". I would like to correct him. There is continual work within the laboratory and animals have also been used within the facility for the work of the World Influenza Centre and studies with the current avian H5 and H7 influenza viruses.

December 2004

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