Animal testing lobby fights for fair hearing

The Coalition for Medical Progress, Britain’s foremost group dedicated to promoting animal research, has hired Jo Tanner to spearhead its cause as director.

She will be locked in debate with a vociferous animal rights movement.

Tanner took up the daunting PR challenge this week, having joined from the British Dental Association where she was head of media and public affairs.

CMP comprises the world's biggest pharmaceutical firms and UK medical groups. Tanner is charged with increasing its awareness among medical professionals.

'With nurses handing out prescriptions and pharmacists increasingly questioned about animal testing, we need to arm them with facts,' argued Tanner. 'Practically every single prescribed drug has at one point been tested on animals.'

The group is supported by, among others, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, trade union Amicus and animal rights pariah Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Tanner acknowledged the organisation was contentious but said its arguments needed to be aired.

'People need facts rather than emotive images,' she said. 'CMP is a proactive organisation, we don't respond to animal rights terrorism.'

In recent years animal rights campaigners have frequently hit headlines with attacks on medical research facilities and staff. Last week five people were arrested in Oxford when 350 protesters picketed against a new medical research laboratory at the city's university.

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