More than five hundred scientists have come out in support of animal testing, following an announcement from Darley Oaks Farm that it will stop breeding guinea pigs for use in medical research by the end of the year.
The farm's owners, the Hall family, have said that they hope the decision will persuade animal rights campaigners to return the remains of Gladys Hammond, a close relative. Hammond's remains were stolen in October 2004.
The statement from the Research Defence Society, which works to counter the campaigns of anti-vivisectionists, was signed by three Nobel laureates and 190 Fellows of the Royal Society. RDS officials said it "shows the strength and depth of support for humane animal research in this country".
Darley Oaks Farm began breeding guinea pigs for use in medical research in 1999. Previously it had been a traditional dairy farm. Protests began almost straight away, and over the next six years the Halls were subjected to what has been described as a campaign of intimidation.
The Halls are planning to return to traditional farming, according to reports. Local MP Michael Fabricant told Radio 4 that it was "a tragedy" that the intimidation campaign had succeeded.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the group Stop the Newchurch Guinea Pigs (as described in The Telegraph) told the paper: "It's a victory for the animals and it's a fundamental victory for the animal rights movement." ®