Benicia officials suggest blanket ban on animal testing
BENICIA, Nov 13, 2012 (Times-Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
City officials are recommending a blanket ban on animal testing two years after a public discussion of the issue garnered opposition to the practice.
Officials are recommending the ban as they move to finalize proposed zoning amendments over the next several months. The proposals aim to position the Benicia industrial park as a regional leader in research, development and technology.
A previous attempt to encourage more research, technology and lab uses in industrial zones resulted in public scrutiny of the animal testing issue. Following that 2010 public discussion, city officials concluded facilities primarily used for vivaria -- places for raising and keeping animals for research -- should not be allowed.
Whether to allow some animal testing as part of larger research facilities was expected to be revisited. However, city officials are now recommending "that they not be allowed under any circumstances," according to a staff report issued last week.
Benicia Economic Development Manager Mario Giuliani said the recommendation is based on the "extraordinary level" of opposition -- mainly philosophical -- the issue garnered two years ago.
Whatever decision the city makes regarding live animal testing could affect its ability to attract biotechnology firms. However, cell research would still be allowed under the proposed amendments.
The proposed zoning amendments are part of the city's ongoing economic development efforts. They seek to clarify
what is and isn't allowed in the industrial park and expedite proposed land use changes or construction, city officials say.
The Economic Development Board is set to review the proposals on Thursday.
"Benicia has a significant opportunity to prepare itself for new market economies and emerging business and technology sectors," the staff report says.
"Creating zoning that allows for broader technological advancement will allow existing businesses to expand more easily without having to move to a new jurisdiction, leaving behind empty industrial space, lost jobs and lost revenues."
Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 553-6831. Follow him on Twitter @tburchyns.
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