Newsletter Autumn 2004

  • False Claims - The OU makes false claims in "Alzheimer's Breakthrough" article
  • Sesame Article - The Sesame article that wasn't!
  • News - are you getting it?
  • Thanks - acknowledgements
  • Website - accessibility issues on the SES website? Let us know
  • A E C error - has the Animal Ethical Committee let a major error go unnoticed?
  • Conference 2004 - a report from Samantha Covington
  • Conference 2005 - Vivien Pomfrey looks ahead to the OUSA Conference 2005
  • Existing O U S A policy - The Open University Students' Association's current policy on animal experiments
  • Good News - And finally - here is the really good news!

False Claims about OU Dementia Research

Report by Vivien Pomfrey

In the Spring 2004 issue of Open Eye - the magazine of The Open University Alumni Community – was an article entitled ‘Alzheimer’s breakthrough’. It claimed that the team led by the OU’s Professor Steven Rose had "discovered a way to boost short-term memory and alleviate many of the early symptoms of the condition." It continued, "They have found a small molecule in the brain that actually restores memory and protects against the effects of the disease . . ."

SES has been following Professor Rose’s work for many years, and these claims were somewhat surprising in view of the fact that all work appeared to be on day-old chicks, which of course cannot be honestly claimed to reveal processes in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

I checked out the link to the OU’s website, where there was a press release (now disappeared) dated 31st October 2003 which stated that "the Open University Brain and Behaviour Research group into Alzheimer’s disease won the Medical Futures Best Innovation in Mental Health for a Novel Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease last night." It further claimed, "For the first time, the OU team have identified a small molecule that restores memory and protects against the poisonous affects (sic) of Alzheimer’s disease" (as had also been claimed in Issue 219 of Sesame) and "Professor Rose said: ‘The repercussions of this discovery are enormous – we can now talk about development of a potential therapeutic drug – like a pill which people can take in the early stages of Alzheimer – also it wouldn’t have the adverse reactions shared by the current drugs."

I followed the link in the press release to the website of Medical Futures, the organisation which had granted the award, and was surprised to read that "New research by a team from the Open University has discovered the biochemical basis for the memory loss in Alzheimer's Disease." People whose lives are blighted by the cruel scourge of dementia are understandably eager to clutch at news of possible cures, and such announcements are bound to fill them with hope. Sadly, the claims represent a travesty of honest, accurate science reporting and can only damage the OU’s reputation as well as playing cynically and callously on the public’s fears. Let’s look at the real facts of the matter.

Claim 1: "The team has discovered a way to boost short-term memory."
Fact: the team has discovered a way to boost short-term memory in day-old chicks, not humans.

Claim 2: "The team has discovered a way to alleviate many of the early symptoms of the condition."
Facts: the team created a crude ‘model’ of Alzheimer’s disease by injecting beta-amyloid protein into the brains of day-old chicks, which caused memory loss. This ‘model’ does not reproduce the typical range of symptoms suffered by human Alzheimer’s patients, so cannot show the alleviation of the condition either.

Claim 3: "They have found a small molecule in the brain that actually restores memory."
Fact: they have found a small molecule in the brain that restores memory in day-old chicks after it has been impaired by the injection of beta-amyloid.

Claim 4: "They have found a small molecule in the brain that ... protects against the effects of the disease."
Fact: they have found a small molecule that protects against memory loss in day-old chicks caused by the injection of beta-amyloid.

Claim 5: "The repercussions of this discovery are enormous."
Facts: the discovery may have no significant repercussions at all. This research is at a very early stage, and only a very small percentage of compounds which show promise at this stage lead to drugs which are effective and safe in humans.

Claim 6: " ... a potential therapeutic drug ... wouldn’t have the adverse reactions shared by the current drugs."
Fact: the likelihood and nature of adverse reactions of a drug in humans with Alzheimer’s disease cannot be predicted from testing a substance on day-old chicks in which memory loss has been artificially induced.

Claim 7: "New research by a team from the Open University has discovered the biochemical basis for the memory loss in Alzheimer's Disease."
Facts: for decades a large number of researchers all over the world have been working on the various biochemical bases for Alzheimer's disease, and many have made discoveries of molecules and biochemical cascades which are associated, possibly - but not definitely - causally, with dementia. Some scientists doubt that beta-amyloid protein is actually a cause of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and believe that it may actually be produced as a response to the disease process. Its prevalence in human brains corresponds poorly to dementia severity, and it is found in the brains of non-demented individuals too.

I e-mailed Medical Futures about the latter claim. The organisation’s Andy Goldberg FRCS copied my message (without my permission) and his reply to Professor Rose, agreeing that there were some phrases that were misleading and stating: "It has always been our attention to assist researchers and inventors promote their work, without in any way glorifying it or misleading anyone. We leave that to the national press who are experts at it." He went on to say that the statements were composed by Medical Futures's PR team and normally go through a number of filters before being published on the website, and apologised for this not having been done effectively.

Professor Rose replied and asserted that the statement was "quite accurate" but "perhaps should have been qualified to read 'which they believe to be the biochemical basis for ... ' but otherwise it is fine." He further stated that his team had made no claims prior to 2002 as to their work's relevance to Alzheimer's disease.

IN FACT the OU has been making such claims since at least 1996. From Open Graduate, Autumn 1996:

"A £660,000 partnership between the OU, Medical Research Council and Glaxo Wellcome could pave the way for the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. The grant will pay for a three-year investigation into possible connections between the molecules which make memory and the distressing memory loss which accompanies Alzheimer’s ... The project will investigate the theory that in Alzheimer’s some of the molecules clog rather than connect, and will study ways of preventing or reversing this process ... Said BRG Director Professor Steven Rose: 'Alzheimer’s is a matter of desperate concern which obviously gives our research more urgency.'"

From the annual reports from the OU's Department of Biological Sciences to its Animal Ethical Committee from the years 1997-2000:

"Work done under this heading is directed at discovering the cellular and molecular processes that underlie learning and memory. This is a central problem for present day neuroscience, bearing on deep philosophical questions of the relationship between mind and brain and the question of consciousness, as well as having increasing impact on human health, via its greater understanding of the prevention and treatment of the memory loss that occurs in diseases such as Alzheimer's. Studies of these mechanisms in the chick brain point directly to how such processes function in humans." (our emphasis)

Students for Ethical Science queried the 1997-2000 claims, and in 2001 they were dropped, and partly replaced with:

"although the impetus for the work over many years has been that of basic science, work over the past couple of years has increasingly turned to exploiting our findings to explore potential treatments for memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease."

Following our correspondence, Medical Futures changed their citation of the OU work to

"New research by a team from the Open University has discovered what they believe to be the biochemical basis for memory loss in Alzheimer's Disease . . ."

Reference to the work seems now to have disappeared from the page on 2003 award-winners, with only a short résumé remaining on the homepage at

There are clear guidelines, drafted by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in partnership with the Royal Society and the Royal Institution of Great Britain, for reporting the findings of scientific research, which can be found at

These include the following requirements:

"When discussing the findings, researchers should state if their findings have yet to be replicated or are based entirely on animal studies."

It would appear that the OU’s reporting of Professor Rose’s team’s work contravenes both of these requirements. The guidelines also state:

"While scientists should be ready to draw attention to the most interesting and potentially newsworthy aspects of their work, it is crucial that the importance of the work should not be exaggerated."

The claims made by the OU, including statements by Professor Rose himself, are clearly exaggerated with regard to their relevance to humans, their relevance to Alzheimer’s disease, the stage of drug development and the likelihood of a successful treatment arising from the research. Another guideline is " ... it is essential to avoid generating unwarranted optimism, by reporting findings as 'breakthroughs' or 'miracle cures' . . ." ‘Breakthrough’ is precisely the word used by the OU in its publicity. This contravention has just been repeated in the article about cancer on page 13 of Sesame issue 223. This new article employs the absurd concept of knowing that one is about to achieve a breakthrough. Oh, to have such powers of prescience!.

Perhaps the most striking piece of irony in this whole sorry tale is that Professor Rose is an experienced media personality who writes articles advising on how to report scientific research!

Here is an abstract from one of his recent articles:

Biochemical Society Transactions Volume 31, Issue 2 , April 2003, Pages 307-312

How to (or not to) communicate science

Rose, S P R Brain and Behaviour Research Group, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK;


"Protagonists for 'the public understanding of science' still sometimes fail to recognize that there is also a need for 'the scientists' understanding of the public' and that for most of science most of the time we are all public. 'Science' is communicated to 'the public' through popular books, museums, TV, the Internet, but far too often the present state of scientific belief is presented uncritically as the onward march of truth as discovered by Euro-American males. This has contributed to a widespread public concern, if not mistrust, in many areas of science, not least genetics and neuroscience. Although researchers often criticize the media for misrepresenting their work, the hype and simplifications often begin with the press releases put out by the researchers, their institutions and the scientific journals themselves. I conclude by looking more optimistically at the ways in which, by bringing natural science into theatre, novels and other art forms, the fragmentation of our culture may be diminished."



The Sesame article that wasn’t

In August journalist Peter Taylor-Whiffen contacted SES about a Sesame article he was planning about animal experimentation at the OU. We sent him details of the inappropriate research reporting, among other things, and also referred him to our website. Mr Taylor-Whiffen promised to send us a draft for scrutiny in early September but, having heard no more by October, we e-mailed him again. He replied that he had been ill and gave us the e-mail address for the OU's head of publications Debbie Dixon. Bizarrely, our e-mail to her elicited a message stating, "Your message was deleted without being read". In case it was deleted in error or because it had been in html format, we re-sent it in plain text, and are awaiting a proper reply. We had expected the item to be in Issue 223, which is considerably smaller than usual. It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the article should have been in but has been vetoed by someone at the OU – maybe the censorship-happy Head of Biology? They will obviously not be keen to have certain things publicised….



Getting the News?

SES members for whom Vivien Pomfrey has an e-mail address should already have some of this information, so please accept apologies for repetition. If anyone is not already receiving Vivien’s bulk mailings about animal rights/welfare issues and would like to, they should contact Vivien (contact details below). Likewise, anyone who receives these mailings and would prefer not to, let Vivien know, e.g. by responding to one of the messages.




Multitudinous thanks to all SES officers, members and supporters who helped to raise awareness of the OU’s unnecessary and unethical use of animals, and of the campaigning work carried out by SES and other ethical science organisations, at Conference 2004. You are a very fine team indeed!

Vivien Pomfrey, Secretary



SES Website - accessibility issues

JOHN, Doug and Diana have been conferring on how we can make our website more accessible to disabled people and Sam has already uploaded pdf versions of several of our main documents, one of which is in larger print. Please contact Vivien if you have any special needs affecting your ability to participate in SES, and let her know about anything that might help you. She is familiar with the Type-Talk telephone system.

Here are Vivien’s contact details:



AEC major error?

The long-awaited 2002 report from the Biology Department to the Animal Ethical Committee (AEC) appears to have erroneously carried over, completely unchanged, the details for a defunct residential school from 2001.

We e-mailed the new Science Administrator to query this, pointing out that details are given in the report for the residential school BIOL 777, which was replaced in 2002 with stand-alone schools SXR 370-SXR 373. The figures given for mammals ordered and used are identical to those given in the 2001 report, suggesting that perhaps all the details have been inadvertently copied over.

As total student attendance reported on page 2 of the report for the four new schools was 58% down (51+42+21+29 = 143 as opposed to 341 for BIOL 777 in 2001), one would anticipate a similar reduction in the number of animals used, unless a significantly larger proportion of the reduction was for SXR 372-3 than for SXR 370-1. As a major function of the AEC is to query the use of excessively large numbers of animals, we would have expected the committee to have raised questions on this matter and that, if an error had been made in the report, it would have been re-drafted and resubmitted to the committee.

We asked:

  • whether the AEC had raised such queries, and
  • whether/what action was being taken to remedy the error, or
  • whether the report was in fact correct.

We have now received a reply saying that the Biology Department are "keen to move on to more recent work". (We bet they are ... !) We are told: "They (the Biology Department) advise that the numbers remained the same for 2001 and 2002 due to the way that places at residential school are booked and organised and hence affect the acquisition and use of animals in practical work."

This is unacceptable. The animal tissue for residential school experiments has to be from freshly-killed animals due to the nature of the experiments. Thus one would expect that someone would have told the lab technicians how many students were registered on the course, or actually present, before they started to kill animals. Better, excessive numbers would not have been ordered in the first place. There have been variations in numbers of animals used some years, so why not this time? Are animals such dispensable tools that they can just be killed without checking whether there is a ‘need’?

If there is a major error on the reporting of numbers of animals used, and the committee with responsibility for ensuring that excessive numbers are not used has not noticed, animal protection at the OU is not as stringent as we are repeatedly told. If there is not an error, excessive numbers of animals have been killed and there are apparently no safeguards against this.

We will continue to pursue this matter until we receive satisfactory explanations and assurances that action has been taken to prevent a repetition.

If the AEC has not noticed such a glaring error, what else might slip past them?



Conference 2004

Report by Samantha Covington

FOR the 2nd year running I was very pleased to represent Students for Ethical Science (SES) at the annual Open University Students’ Association (OUSA) Conference, which for the very first time was being held at the OU's own Campus at Milton Keynes.

The motions brought to conference that concerned us were as follows:

Motion 68M(PO) our motion to delete the Executive Committee's (EC's) Motion 32M(PO) of 2003

Motion 69M(PO) our motion to strengthen our Motion 34M(PO) of 2003

Motion 70M(PO) the EC's motion to change and diminish our Motion 34M(PO) 2003

Motion 71M(PO) our motion to end the use of animals in research into human conditions

Our motions were scheduled to be debated in Block C before the 11.30 address by Professor Allan Cochrane, the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students). However, Conference was already running so late that we were moved back and the block did not commence until 12.05. With the session ending for lunch at 12.30 we had no chance of being heard.

Doug PaulleyOn the advice of John Burrows - Vice-President (VP) Representation - I asked the Chair what would happen to unheard motions and was told that they would try to get them in if there was any time left at the end of Sunday morning's business.

I conferred with SES’s Chair Doug Paulley (pictured right) and when the morning's session ended with Motion 65 we went straight to the Steering Committee and asked them if they could squeeze us in at the and of that afternoon's session, rather than waiting until the end of Sunday morning's. This seemed to them to be rather a novel idea - but we asked nicely and late on, while I was outside the conference hall talking to John Halsey (London's Executive Committee Member) and stoically accepting the fact that that we were not going to be heard Linda Dart, one of my branch delegates, came hurtling out of the hall to find me. Time had been found and 66 was being debated. We were in with a chance!

If anyone was wondering why I sounded so breathless while doing my presentation of Motion 68M(PO) it was because I ran like mad to get back into the hall, find my file, organize my thoughts and get up onto the podium without falling over!

VP Education, Brian Gilmour, speaking for the EC, responded by saying that 32 had been "overwhelmingly carried" last year (which I was later to rebut - recalling that after Conference last year 2 people had come to speak to me, independently, saying that I should have asked for a count on Motion 32 because they felt it was very close) and that the committee name difference was in fact only that it should have been Science Faculty Board and not Committee - which is even more untrue because the Animal Ethical Committee is now outside the Science Faculty, where it should be.

I was ably seconded by Doug who clearly and calmly emphasized the necessity of separating research from education, and he was followed by George Macfarlane (the out-going VP Finance), who protested vigorously about students who opted out of animal experiments being unprotected if we deleted their motion. That was, of course, nonsense, because that protection is very clearly defined in our motion 33 of last year, and I was able to rebut that statement also, in my right to reply.

In urging Conference to carry the motion and rebutting the statements made by the two EC members I closed the debate with the following statement:

"We have to delete last year's 32. There is no doubt about it. Today's Motion 68 removes the anomaly of research being tacked onto policy that is about education, it removes the confusion over the name of the committee dealing with animal ethics, it removes the confusion over what one is refusing to do, it removes the university's get-out clause and it removes the problem of having two bits of policy covering more or less the same area. Please vote in support of Motion 68, and let's remove last year's 32 in the pursuit of clear policy. Thank you."

Unable to agree whether it had been carried from a cursory glance around the room, the motion went to a count and was resoundingly carried 73/43. We were very pleased!

In addition to bringing business to the Conference, we had a stall stocked with various leaflets - most of which can be found here in the SES Literature section of the website.

from Guinea Pig to Computer Mouse The organisation EFMA (Europeans for Medical Advancement) were kind enough to send us a supply of their excellent booklet "Of Mice, Money and Medical Misconceptions" and Picture of cover of bookInterNICHE (the International Network for Humane Education) generously donated copies of their superb manual of alternative methods for progressive, humane education "from guinea pig to computer mouse".

We also held a raffle for a bottle of champagne which raised £55, nicely covering our costs. The draw was won by the very same Linda Dart (above left) who was responsible for getting me back into the hall in time to present the motion - so there is justice out there! (Thank goodness the draw was made by the out-going President Alison Ryan - thanks Als!)

The Milton Keynes campus is wonderful and I was very lucky to have been given a private tour of the new library by Nicky Withsed the driving force behind it. However, the catering for vegetarians was abysmal and the dining area cramped and slow to serve. Buck up Walton Hall!

In 2005 we'll be back - with more motions in our campaign for good science and the end of the harmful use of animals.

Samantha Covington May 2004



OUSA Conference 2005 - what's coming up

THE SES committee, with help from new member Diana Isserlis, had to take time out at a rather crucial time in our studies to draft some motions for next year’s OUSA Conference. We think that the results are quite good. They have to be submitted to the Societies Standing Committee (SSC), who may accept, amend or reject them.

Here they are, along with brief reasons for their submission (for which thanks to Sam)

Motions to do with the use of animals by the OU

Draft Motion 1

Aim: To improve human health! We took a similar motion to Conference 2004 but it was not debated due to lack of time.

"This Association calls for the complete cessation of research using animals and animal tissue at the OU, and for its replacement with more effective methods such as, but not limited to, epidemiological and clinical studies, scanning technology, in vitro studies and computer modelling."

Draft Motion 2

Aim: To give students who object to the harmful use of animals the opportunity to learn about them by making provision for such students.

"This Association resolves to urge the university to change the profile of its named degree in Life Sciences to permit its completion without participation in, or observation of, experiments requiring the harming of animals either within or outside the university."

Draft Motion 3

Aim: To bring an end to the harmful use of animals in education.

"This Association resolves to urge the university to discontinue the remaining residential and day school experiments which require animals to be harmed and not to write new courses which require the harming of animals."

Draft Motion 4

Aim: To meet with the objectives of the new legislation on openness.

"This Association recognises the move toward more openness in publishing data concerning the use of animals by Universities and asks that the OU publish more detailed information on its use of animals in research and education than is currently provided in its annual reports from the Biology Department, including numbers of animals ordered and used, and that this information be made more widely available."

Motions to enhance existing OUSA policy

Draft Motion 5

Aim: To tighten up the policy we are inserting the words "nor from slaughterhouses" into the existing policy.

"This Association resolves to delete from the Register of Decisions policy no: 2003/34 and replace it with:

'This Association recognises that the University may wish to continue to provide experiments at undergraduate residential and day schools using animal tissue.

'It calls upon the University to ensure that any such tissue is ethically sourced, e.g. neither from purpose-bred or purpose-killed animals, nor from slaughterhouses.'"

Draft Motion 6

Aim: To extend the publication of the details of the use of animals so that students can be better informed before they choose their courses and to be in line with the trend toward greater "openness".

"This Association resolves to make the following amendments to its existing Policy 2003/33:

In Paragraph a) replace the words "Course Description brochure" with the words "course choice publications, course materials, and on its relevant website pages";

In Paragraph b) replace the words "course material" with the words "course choice publications, course materials, and on its relevant website pages";

In Paragraph e) replace the words "and such a statement is placed in the Student Handbook" with the words "and a statement to that effect is placed in the Student Handbook, in course choice publications, course materials and on its relevant website pages";

In Paragraph f) after the words "allows for adequate discussion" insert the words "and the reporting of such discussions."

Motions to enhance existing OUSA policy

Draft Motion 7

Aim: To improve feedback - the current lack of which is very frustrating and we would like to see more action!

"This Association resolves to report to the proposers of successful motions within six months of every annual Conference on its actions and progress towards achieving the implementation of its policies."

Draft Motion 8

Aim: To prevent policies being declared illegal by a misguided EC. (This arises from an incorrect interpretation of the law by the EC, which, had it consulted SES, could have been corrected.)

"This Association resolves that where there is any uncertainty about any of its policies or motions to Conference, the Steering Committee and/or the Executive Committee will consult proposers of the motions and interested and expert parties, such as societies, special-interest groups and government departments, before making decisions on them."

Draft Motion 9

Aim: To improve communication. (This arises from a lack of response experienced from time to time.)

"This Association resolves to put into place a structure so that all correspondence to its office, individual officers or representatives is acknowledged promptly, forwarded promptly to the appropriate individual if necessary, and dealt with effectively and within a reasonable time-scale."

We hope that the SSC will not be too brutal in amending and rejecting our draft motions this year. On the other hand, if they accept them all, Sam may have rather an onerous task ahead of her…!



Existing OUSA policy

2003/34 Ethically Sourced Tissue

This Association recognises that the University may wish to continue to provide experiments using animal tissue.

It calls upon the University to ensure that any such tissue is ethically sourced, e.g. not from purpose-bred or purpose killed animals.

2003/33 Use of Animals and Specifically Killed Tissue

This Association recognises that many students do not wish to take part in experiments involving the use of animals or specifically killed tissue. It calls upon the University to:

  1. provide sufficient details about such experiments in the Course Description brochure for students to be able to make an informed choice,
  2. provide formal alternatives for students where such experiments take place and ensure these alternatives are freely available and published in course material,
  3. take steps to reduce the number of animals needed by replacement with viable alternatives e.g. computer simulations.
  4. explore ways in which these alternatives may be implemented and expanded,
  5. ensure that no student’s academic assessment is affected by refusal to participate and such a statement is placed in the Student Handbook,
  6. ensure that the remit of the Animal Ethical Committee allows for adequate discussion.
  7. implement these changes as soon as possible.



And now for some good news!

OPEN University course SXR 371 has been discontinued!

This is the course which used 158 neonatal rabbits in 2002.

A student very kindly notified us that she had been told that a 15-point 3rd level course entitled ‘Plants, Pigment and Light’ (SXR 375) would be replacing SXR 372 from 2005. SXR 372 involved experimenting on live locusts (the summer school booklet recommends sticking Plasticine onto their backs to see how this affects their ability to jump), then killing them and experimenting on isolated body-parts.

The course manager for the 3rd level biology residential schools has confirmed that it is hoped to present SXR 375 next summer, but that it cannot yet be guaranteed as confirmation is awaited from the Science Faculty that funding will be available. Students who tested out the new course were thought to have been ‘quite pleased’. The course manager said,

"There is still a lot of work to be done in developing it, and we cannot advertise the course until we have financial approval from the faculty. Hopefully it will appear on the web site some time in October so please tell people to keep checking if they are interested."

We are waiting to find out whether the new plant course can replace one of the animal-killing third-level courses as part of the profile for named biology degrees. You too can check if you have Internet access.

For information about the BSc (Hons) degree in Natural Sciences see:

BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences Code: B16

and for the BSc (Hons) in Life Sciences see:

BSc (Honours) Life Sciences Code: B28

Please bear in mind that deep links can sometimes fail, so do persevere with your search, but do let us know if the links no longer work. Many thanks.

However, we are very pleased to note that there is a new course 'Molecular and cellular biology’ (S377) on the OU website, and this can be counted towards the named biology degrees. We have submitted a motion to the Societies Standing Committee (SSC) for OUSA’s 2005 conference re the ethicalising of the Life Sciences degree (see ‘Conference motions for 2005’). Interestingly, the only animal-harming Level 3 residential school course listed as taking place in 2005 is SXR 373. This could be a good sign ...


We have been campaigning for years to have the Open University rat liver experiment in course S202/3 - which was carried over to stand-alone residential school SXR270 - abandoned and replaced with computer simulation and/or the use of plant material.

The Science Administrator has now e-mailed to say:

" ... I can confirm that we have removed the practical session on rat liver mitochondria from the SXR720 (presumably meaning SXR270) residential school, and that members of the department have begun development of a new practical using plant mitochondria."

Vivien could hardly believe what she was reading and is over the moon.

We do not know whether our campaigning has had any bearing on this change, but the messages of congratulations from members and from humane science campaigners around the world suggest that they think it must have done.

We gave the Science Faculty comprehensive details of a plant alternative (notified to us by an OU tutor) some time ago, urging them to make the change, as there seemed to be no justification for continuing to kill animals when the same learning experience can be achieved using plant material. It appears that the Biology Department never passed on that information to staff involved with the course, and that this was eventually done by the aforementioned tutor.

This appears to be an example of how just a few determined and ethically-minded people can bring about change in the face of establishment inertia, and is cause for great hope.

Things are REALLY looking up for ethical biology students at the OU.

All the changes are in line with what we have been asking for, i.e. courses on plants and micro-organisms instead of just those about and using/killing animals. It would be nice if the Science Faculty actually told us these things directly instead of our having to find out in such indirect ways. Hopefully, communication will improve as the new OUSA Central Representative to the Animal Ethical Committee is a member of SES and was instrumental in drafting OUSA policy on animal experiments in education.

Vivien will update our literature when she has free time (whatever that is, she says ...).