Following the break-in at the University of Milan last month by animal rights extremists, hundreds of people will be taking to the streets of Milan on Saturday to support scientific research.
The Pro-Test Italia rally will culminate in the delivery of a petition signed by over 5000 people calling for solidarity with the researchers affected by the attack. The petition was prepared by the Basel Declaration Society, an association founded to strengthen public awareness of the importance of animal research.
This has been organised in response to activists breaking into the Milan labs, where they chained themselves to the doors. After twelve hours of refusing police orders to leave, the group stole over 100 animals and sabotaged experiments investigating psychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia.
The President of Pro-Test Italia, Daria Giovannoni, said: ‘Lifesaving research in Italy is under threat. Extremist attacks on breeders and research institutions prevent animal studies into diseases like cancer from being conducted. Pro-Test Italia aims to give scientists a voice to defend themselves.’
The Pro-Test Italia organisation was originally set up in September following a similar break-in by the same activists last April at a beagle breeding facility near Milan. Frustrated by the lack of support from authorities and the culture of fear preventing scientists from speaking publicly, Italian scientists drew inspiration from the Pro-Test movement in the UK. That was originally set up in the wake of attacks by extremists on Oxford University and the 1000-strong Pro-Test march was viewed as a turning point in countering extremism in the UK.
Laurie Pycroft, founder of the original Pro-Test movement in Oxford said: 'If anything positive can be gleaned from this incident, it is that the scientific community in Italy is now demonstrating that it will no longer bow down to threats, and will strive to defend research that improves millions of lives worldwide.'