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Italy’s highest administrative court has put on hold a project funded by the prestigious European Research Council (ERC), as Timed Higher Ed reports. The Lightup Project, which involves experiments with small monkeys, attempts to find out how to overcome damage to the visual cortex. The project has for quite some time led to protest by anti-vivisection groups, who had collected 400,000 signatures for a petition against the experiment. One of those, the Lega Anti Vivisezione, now took legal action. It was successful: at least for the time being, the court suspended the EUR 1.7 million project.
Marco Tamietto, a professor at the University of Torino and the project’s principal investigator, is quoted as saying “If the system fails to resist pressure from animal rights activists, then it will be a disaster for biomedical research in Italy”. He claimed that Italy was more hostile to animal testing than any other country in Europe and predicted that biomedical research would eventually move out of Italy.
On 21 April, the court is expected to announce its final verdict. It will decide if Lightup may continue until its originally foreseen end in 2023, or if it will be discontinued.