This week sees the launch of a controversial initiative by the
Research Defence Society, the group that campaigns on behalf of
organisations involved in medical research on animals.
At a press conference on Tuesday, director Mark Matfield unveiled a
series of leaflets that profile individuals working in, and benefiting
from, the medical results of animal experimentation. It is the beginning
of a fightback against the anti-vivisection lobby, that will seek to
demystify research through a greater focus on the people involved in the
industry, including increased media access to many laboratories.
Whatever one's personal stance on the emotive issue of animal
experimentation, it is hard to argue with the fundamental defence of
lobbyists - that in a democracy every organisation or individual has the
right to put their point of view and to explain their actions and
For the past couple of years this particular group has been largely
silenced by the very real fear of violent reprisals by animal-rights
Matfield has personally been targeted, and it must have take great
courage for the individuals featured in this campaign to be identified
and speak out.
Understandably, there are many who would balk at working on such a
campaign, and condem experimentation on ethical and moral grounds. But
the real issue here is not about the justification or villification of
animal experimentation but that of free speech and the right to use
public relations methods to put your case, create transparency and open