Laboratories at the University of Milan and the associated National Institute of Neurosciences were invaded by activists who abducted laboratory animals and destroyed cage signs, wasting years of research.
The Basel Declaration Society, which campaigns for stronger ethical codes on the use of animals in medical research, has condemned the action as harming the future of biomedical research in Europe.
The projects targeted by the activists focused on neurological disorders including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, MS and Parkinson’s disease.
They abducted about 100 purpose-bred animals that need special care and so are unlikely to survive; and removed all cage signs, spoiling the ongoing research. The cost of the lost work has been estimated at nearly a million Euros.
Professor Zeller, President of the Basel Declaration Society, said: “Animal research remains an essential pillar of all biomedical research. In particular basic research in neuroscience, which is the focus of our Milan colleagues, is key to tackling the healthcare problems of aging European societies.
“Extremists who destroy laboratories and ‘liberate’ animals commit serious crimes and attack the core of our democratic principles.”
The Society has called for life scientists worldwide to show solidarity with their Milan colleagues by a number of means, including asking stakeholders in neuroscience to submit proposals and suggestions to alleviate the damage inflicted on the Milan research projects.
‘Animal rights’ extremists in the UK have repeatedly made bizarre claims to justify their attacks on research facilities – for example, the Animal Liberation Front leader, speaking on Newsnight, stated that all drugs are ‘petrochemical’ and therefore obviously without medical value.