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One city's fight over biomed plans

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Indeed, Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) created Science Foundation Arizona, which partners with businesses to expand the state's bioscience and high-tech industries. And she's dedicated $100 million of state funds over the next four years to further develop such industries.

When Covance began looking to build a lab in the desert Southwest, some 17 communities vied for the opportunity to host the company. Chandler officials took tours of the company's labs in other towns and visited with officials in those towns. They also spoke with US government officials charged with oversight of Covance's facilities. Covance eventually selected Chandler and purchased property there in 2005.

From there, however, the deal has been steeped in controversy.

Protesters of the plans decry the method that the US government requires for the development of medicines and other compounds such as antibacterial cleansers: that they be tested on animals before humans. Critics claim the method is outdated and that the toxins they introduce in animals cause them to react differently than humans. They also note that the US Department of Agriculture cited Covance for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act in 2005.

But others point out that companies like Covance are following US regulations. "In this society, like all developed nations, any new compound, product, or medical device must be tested in a whole living system, and we do not test on humans first," says Frankie Trull, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, a group in Washington dedicated to fostering support for humane and responsible animal research. "The law and regulations are really quite proscriptive in what a company has to do."

Most test animals – some 95 percent – are rodents bred for that purpose, Ms. Trull says. But Covance also tests on some primates, as well as dogs.

Battle over the property

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