MALACCA - A Malaysian minister on Monday defended plans to build an animal testing medicine lab in his state, saying God created monkeys and rats for experiments to benefit humans.
Malacca Chief Minister Mohamad Ali Rustam said the lab had been approved, and animal testing was necessary to make drugs. "We cannot test on human beings," he said. "God created monkeys, and some have to be tested."
The plans by Indian firm Vivo BioTech to set up a lab in the state has come under fire from activists who say test subjects could be abused because Malaysia has no regulations on animal research.
Mr Mohamad Ali said government agencies would monitor that the animals were not abused and proper procedures followed. He said eating animals could also be seen as cruel, and yet was widely accepted.
Vivo signed a RM450-million ($193-million) joint-venture deal in January to build the biotechnology centre, including labs where trial medicines will be tested on animals.
Malaysia's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,together with European animal rights groups, submitted a protest letter to the government last month, urging it to halt the project.
"We are not confident at all that the animals' welfare will be looked at properly," it said. AP