MALAYSIA GOVT MINISTER says "GOD MADE ANIMALS FOR TESTING"
Chief of Minister - Mohamad Ali Rustam
MALAYSIA MINISTER: "GOD MADE ANIMALS FOR TESTING"
By Julia Zappei – 31/05/2010
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian minister defended an Indian company's plans to build an animal testing medicine lab in his state, saying Monday that God created monkeys and rats for experiments to benefit humans.
The plans by India's Vivo BioTech Ltd. to set up a biotechnology center in southern Malacca state has come under fire by activists because it will conduct tests on dogs and primates to make medicines. The activists say Malaysia has no regulations on animal research, which could lead to test subjects being abused.
But Malacca Chief Minister Mohamad Ali Rustam said the lab had received state approval, and animal testing was necessary to make drugs. The project is still in the planning phase.
"God created animals for the benefits of human beings. That's why he created rats and monkeys ... We cannot test on human beings," he told The Associated Press. "This is the way it has to be. God created monkeys, and some have to be tested."
He said Malaysian agencies, such as the wildlife department, could monitor that the animals were not abused and proper procedures followed. He said eating animals could also be seen as cruel, and yet it was widely accepted.
Vivo inked a 450 million ringgit ($141 million) joint-venture deal in January to build the biotechnology center, including laboratories where trial medicines will be tested on animals. Its partners are state government-owned Melaka Biotech Holdings and local firm Vanguard Creative Technologies.
In a joint statement last month, Malaysia's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments decried the project because Malaysia has no laws protecting the welfare of animals used in experiments.
The group opposed the proposed facility for "both ethical reasons and the lack of scientific validity of using animals in testing."
The groups has submitted a protest letter to the government, urging it to halt the project. "Malaysia should not open the economy to businesses like this as it promotes cruelty," SPCA official Jacinta Johnson said.
Activists say companies are increasingly outsourcing animal testing to Asia, where regulations are more lax and costs are lower than in the West.
Vivo has said previously it may import beagles from Holland and try to obtain domestic primates for testing.
Last year, a French pharmaceutical research company proposed building an animal testing laboratory in southern Johor state using imported macaques, but the project was suspended amid an outcry from environmental groups.
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Mohamad Ali Rustam's email:
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