NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 9, 2004

Research and pharmaceutical companies in the United Kingdom have been routinely victimized by terroristic threats and behavior from animal rights groups while the lack of political response has emboldened the extremists, say observers.

Consequently, many companies have halted important research or moved facilities out of the country:

  • GlaxoSmithKlein complained that their partner companies will not do research in Britain due to lack of protection against harassment.
  • Cambridge University halted a plan for a primate-research facility due to pressure from animal rights groups.
  • Huntingdon Life Sciences relocated their headquarters to the United States after 80 companies cut ties with them after being harassed.

A spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry explains that tactics used by extremists include vandalizing company buildings and employee homes, poison pen letters through the mail and bomb threats. In one case, a businessman was sent a letter where extremists threatened to jab him with an HIV-tainted needle unless he cut ties to an animal-testing company.

The British government has announced that it will step up police powers and prosecute extremists and those who fund them, but some critics say enforcement has come too late, and Britain risks losing valuable, life-saving research. Moreover, the actions of extremists who have acted with impunity in Britain could embolden animal-rights groups in other countries as well, say observers.

Source: Editorial, "Another Kind of Terrorist," Opinion, Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2004.

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