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Group demands details on plans for lab animals

By Associated Press
Published January 5, 2004

[Last modified January 5, 2004, 01:45:54]

FORT LAUDERDALE - A South Florida animal rights organization is demanding to know how researchers at the Scripps Research Institute will use animals in scientific experiments.

The state is investing $310-million to attract the biotech giant, and Animal Rights Foundation of Florida thinks residents should know whether their tax money is going toward scientific research that includes harming or killing animals.

Scripps is slated to start work in 10,000 square feet of leased laboratory space at the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University as soon as June or July.

The Animal Rights Foundation wrote to Palm Beach County commissioners to request details on Scripps' plans - including what animals researchers will use, what kind of research they will be used for, and how they will be housed at biomedical labs.

At its San Diego headquarters, Scripps researchers have used dogs, cats, monkeys, rats, pigs and rabbits in experiments. Last year, for example, researchers studied the impact of the drug Ecstasy on the brains of rhesus monkeys.

Animal Rights Foundation managing director Heather Lischin said her group has collected information about Scripps experiments that is "questionable at the very least, and is gruesome, painful and horrible for the animals being used."

But Scripps officials said the institute follows stringent federal guidelines when handling lab animals.

Scripps president Richard A. Lerner said the institute has never been targeted by animal rights activists, and animal testing is critical to improving the understanding and treatment of human conditions.

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