And below, the article in The Malay Mail that announced this upcoming atrocity.
Animal-testing centre to be set up in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR: A RM450 million deal has been signed between a large Indian biotechnology company and State government-owned Melaka Biotech Holdings Sdn Bhd this year. The State will soon see three animal-experimentation laboratories set up in Rembia in Alor Gajah.
The primate, small animals and canine-testing laboratories will be part of a one-stop fully-integrated biotechnology centre for the development, testing and manufacturing of medicines.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Malacca Biotech, Indian Biotechnology firm Vivo BioTech Limited and Vanguard Creative Technologies Sdn Bhd on Jan 21 in India. A joint-venture company, Vivo Bio Tech (M) Sdn Bhd was set up to facilitate this multi billion ringgit project, in which India's Vivo BioTech would hold majority equity, followed by Vanguard Creative and Melaka Biotech.
The MoU was inked in New Delhi by representatives of Vivo BioTech and Vanguard as well as by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, witnessed by Najib.
But as yet, no notice or application of permit has been made with the Peninsular Malaysia Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS).
Mohd Ali told The Malay Mail that the company was in the process of submitting building plans for the facilities to the Alor Gajah Municipal Council.
On the unease of animal welfare groups over the use of animals for experiments, the chief minister gave the assurance the State government would monitor the situation once the centre is set up and operational.
Meanwhile, Vivo Bio Tech (Malaysia) director Datuk Kuna Sittampalam stated that the proposed fully integrated biotechnology centre was still in its "early days" as the company has yet to submit building plans to the local council.
"There will be three phases in the construction. Phase one will be the animal-testing facilities while the second and third phases will encompass the biotech facilities," said Sittampalam.
He said the company will be importing Beagles from Holland for tests requiring canines, and most probably white mice for the small animal laboratory. He wasn’t sure where they will get the primates from, "Most will be obtained locally, but if we are not allowed, then we will look overseas.
"This is a US$50 billion (RM170 billion) industry and Malaysia wants to be a part of this," said Sittampalam.
Not all tests can be replicated using human tissue culture in place of animals, he said, and explained that animal-testing is a small segment of the whole biotechnology process and people must look at the "bigger picture".
Unfortunately, he added, a biotechnology centre must have testing in order to be deemed fully-integrated. There must be the full sequence of drug development, testing and manufacturing, "so the picture is complete".
Growing protest of welfare groups
KUALA LUMPUR: News that a new biotechnology facility equipped with canine, primate and small animal testing laboratories would soon be set up in Malacca has received opposition from local and international animal welfare NGOs who urge the government to step away from animal experimentation and testing.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) chairman, Christine Chin said SPCA opposes the construction of any animaltesting laboratory.
"There are so many duplication of tests in many areas, in which scientists use human tissue or stem cell tissue instead of using animals," she said, adding that animal-testing does not even provide complete and accurate data or results.
She feels Malaysia should concentrate on refining testing using human tissue from stem cell initiatives instead of embarking on controversial businesses that use animals for tests.
"I understand that certain pharmaceutical testing requires animals and we must accept a certain amount of animal-testing unfortunately. But we must begin to move towards alternative techniques," she said.
"Malaysia should not open the economy to businesses like this as it promotes cruelty."
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Sam) was also disappointed with the news of the laboratories, stating that no animal-testing in any form should be allowed in this country.
Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris also urged the use of human tissue cultures in place of "animals specially bred and killed for this purpose".
"They need to assess the justification for using animals in experiments and carry out a meaningful evaluation on the harm these animals will endure," said Idris.
He also questioned whether the biotechnology company gave any thought to the welfare of the animals it was bringing in, such as how they will be housed and destroyed after the experiments were carried out.
"Is there an ethics committee set up to look into this and ensure the animals do not suffer before and during the experiments?" he asked.
UK-based British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav) has also expressed concern over the news of the planned laboratories.
Its special projects director Sarah Kite told The Malay Mail: "The outsourcing of animal-testing to countries where restrictions may be more lax is a worrying development. This appears to be the case in Malaysia as we understand there is no legislation governing the use of animals in research or testing. Even with legislation, however, the suffering that will be inflicted on the animals used is immoral and unacceptable."
She said Buav was also concerned as to the source of the primates to be used in tests at this facility, questioning whether the facility will be allowed to use Malaysia's own indigenous population of long-tailed macaques.
"We urge the people of Malaysia to not allow itself to be part of an industry that inflicts such great pain and suffering on animals," said Kite.
Perhilitan and DVS in the dark
KUALA LUMPUR: Neither the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) nor the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) have officially heard about the planned biotechnology centre in Rembia, Malacca.
Perhilitan deputy directorgeneral Misliah Mohamad Basir said this was the first time she had heard of such a deal and that she can, to date, "confirm" that no one has approached Perhilitan to obtain a license for bringing in primates to the laboratory.
"They must refer to us (Perhilitan) for licensing as primates are a protected species. This is a big issue. We will have to refer the matter to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment," she said.
Misliah also said that since there are no guidelines or policy on animal testing, Perhilitan will draft new guidelines for the of testing on animals under Perhilitan's jurisdiction if the Ministry were to approve such applications.
DVS deputy director-general (veterinary health) Datuk Dr Ahmad Suhaimi Omar also stated he was not aware of the biotechnology centre in Rembia.
Currently, only a permit from DVS is needed if it involves the import of animals.
“For us, it is only the import of animals that will be of concern to us, but who has the authority to say yes or no to testing?" he asked, adding that the law (Animal Act 1953) contains legislation only on cruelty towards animals.
Tests a benefit to mankind
KUALA LUMPUR: On the other side of the spectrum, Laboratory Animal Science Association of Malaysia (Lasam) said animal-testing or experiment facilities in Malaysia had been around for a long time.
Lasam president Dr Abdul Rahim Mutalib said: "Animal-testing or experiments are part and parcel of research and development in medical, veterinary and biomedical sciences. Animals are used as living models in studies to answer pertinent questions regarding a problem or problems that affect man (or other animals species).
"We cannot use human subjects anyway. The results will eventually benefit humans in the end.
"The animal is a complete living system in which many types of responses can be elicited either simultaneously or in a series over a period of time. No in-vitro system, be it computer simulation, cell or organ culture system, can replace the animal."
He said once a researcher has developed a product meant for humans, he or she must also prove that it will not have any deleterious effect on humans.
As soon as a product is created, he said, the progression of testing would be first in an in-vitro system such as tissue, cell or organ culture, followed by in an in-vivo system such as in small mammals including rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and even fish.
Lastly, testing would be conducted on higher mammals such as dogs, and monkeys which are models for humans.
"The best type of animals that they should use are those that are purpose-bred. You must not use pet dogs or pound dogs or those caught from the wild, as in the case of monkeys, as these animals' health status are not defined," said Dr Abdul Rahim.
"If you use these types of animals, it is likely that your results will not be valid because there are so many variables. Just like when we do experiments in the laboratory, we must use the highest-quality chemicals and the cleanest of glassware so that our results will be true results."
Dr Abdul Rahim, however, stressed that experiments conducted on the animals must take into account their welfare before, during and after the procedures, and if there is pain, it must be minimised.
"The research must be ethical and the benefit must outweigh the pain or suffering the animals undergo," he said.
Thus, he suggested that a local committee called the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) or the Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) must be set up to screen or evaluate any research proposal that needs to use animals.