Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bedroom blogger, 16, takes on animal rights protesters

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bedroom blogger, 16, takes on animal rights protesters: "Backed by top scientists, teenager who dropped out of school leads Oxford lab tests fightback

Robert Booth
Saturday February 25, 2006
The Guardian

Oblivious to the bowl of day-old pasta resting among the exposed wires of his home-built computer, 16-year-old Laurie Pycroft, a floppy-haired sixth form dropout from Swindon, flicks between three screens to keep up with his emails, blog and website. Empty Coke cans, juice bottles and fried chicken boxes litter his bedroom floor.

This is the unlikely nerve centre of a new pro-vivisection campaign which has attracted the backing of some of the most respected scientists in the country. In Oxford today, Pycroft's group, Pro-Test, will launch the fightback against the city's army of vocal and sometimes aggressive anti-vivisectionists."

Today he will share a platform with Prof Stein, who induces Parkinson's disease in monkeys and then attaches electrodes to their brains to test therapies which may help human sufferers. Does he understand some people consider this abhorrent?

"It's necessary," he insists. "The suffering of a few animals can vastly improve the quality of life of thousands of people so I think it is entirely justifiable, especially since they are bred for the purpose and it is not a wild monkey."

Pycroft says he has researched the science as a member of the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth, a government initiative which nurtures England's brightest children, and which has given him access to courses on neurology and neurochemistry.

He enjoys it much more than school, which he has dropped out of for a year. "I found school very frustrating. Basically it was a bit slow and to be honest I'm not a people person." "I quite like being not normal," he added. "I guess there aren't that many 16-year-olds that have started a protest like this."


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