Edinburgh students targeted over animal experiments

Students have been warned over NOAV. Picture: Bill Henry
Students have been warned over NOAV. Picture: Bill Henry
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Edinburgh students are being warned not to give out too much personal information after anti-vivisectionists targeted undergraduates who work with animals.

The animal rights campaigners are promising “beer money” if they get names, contact details and even pictures of students who experiment on animals as part of their degree.

National Operation Anti-Vivisection (NOAV) insist their will only use the information politely to point out alternatives to animal research.

But the tactic has been condemned by the National Union of Students and pro-animal research groups.

Police Scotland advised concerned students to call 101 and said they would investigate any complaints.

According to NOAV, undergraduates whose degrees involve animal experiments include veterinary students, and those studying biomedical and some science courses.

Dundee University has admitted that more than 50,000 animals are experimented on every year and that 1,000 of these experienced “substantial pain”.

In 2013, Edinburgh University revealed in a Freedom of Information request that 226,000 animals died that year following experiments.

Edinburgh University students have now warned their colleagues to be on their guard after NOAV issued an open letter seeking information.

The letter promises: “NOAV is willing to pay £££ for info about students doing experiments on animals in your uni as part of their academic programme. Good info equals good money! Earn some beer money.”

They say that they require the information to “make polite contact about alternatives to animal research”.

NOAV add: “We do not believe they should be given the cover of anonymity. We believe social pressure from their peers is the best way to get them to reconsider their career choice.”

The group has even petitioned Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh University to allow their own members to take the place of animals in experiments.

Tom Holder of Understanding Animal Research condemned the campaign. He said: “To run a campaign based on fear and harassment of students and researchers is unethical and unacceptable in this day and age.

“Animal research has played a major part in the development of most modern medical and veterinary treatments and to put that in danger represents a blow to human and animal health.

“Thankfully extremism is at an all-time low and we hope that NOAV stay true to their word and remain within the boundaries of the law.“

Robert Foster, NUS Scotland vice-president, said: “Everyone has the right to hold firm political beliefs, and undertake protest to achieve them, but that must stop short of behaviour which is unlawful, or intimidating and distressing for those on the receiving end of it.

“Students have a right to receive their degrees without the fear and threat of violence hanging over them.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland advised: “If anyone has any concerns about this we would advise them to contact us on 101. We also have personal and web safety advice on our website.

“We would investigate any complaint that was made to us.”