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Save the Primates on World Laboratory Animal Day – April 24th

ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

Save the Primates on World Laboratory Animal Day – April 24th

This Friday’s World Day for Laboratory Animals falls as the European Parliament gears up to a critical vote on the rules for animal experimentation across the EU.

For the first time in two decades, the Directive governing animal research and testing throughout the EU (known as Directive 86/609) is being revised. The European Parliament is expected to vote on 5th or 6th May on the revision and amendments while MEPs are appealing to their colleagues to support phasing out primate experiments.

Current concerns voiced by campaigners Animal Defenders International (ADI) are that during the Committee stages of the revision of the new EU Directive on animal experiments many of the Commission’s proposals have been seriously weakened. This means they no longer reflect the views of 80% of the public in the EU who oppose the use of primates in research along with a clear majority of MEPs who voted for a timetabled phase-out of all such testing.

ADI point out that Amendment 107 passed by the Agriculture Committee would mean that over 90% of animal experiments would require no prior authorisation but simply be assessed by the laboratory itself – undermining any attempts to replace animal experiments. Yet the Commission proposal for all projects to require prior authorisation is in line with UK legislation and near 80% of other EU countries.

MEPs support ban on primate experiments

Mike Nattrass West Midlands UKIP MEP said: “I am totally against the use of primates or any other animals in experiments and will be voting against the revision of Directive 86/609 unless this includes a total ban on the use of primates in experiments.”

“If experiments must continue then let us see the justification. If those who do these things to living creatures are made aware of the powerful feelings to defend these lives then perhaps they will be less gung ho and show more respect.”

Scottish Labour MEP David Martin is horrified at the latest statistics: “The latest EU figures show that 10,451 primates were used in the EU in 2005 for research, drug development and safety testing. 3,125 primates were used in Great Britain alone last year. Shockingly, Scotland is the primate experimentation centre of the EU with more experiments conducted per head of population than in any other country. 952 primates (30.5% of GB total) were used in 1,213 procedures in Scotland in 2007.”

“The use of primates in experiments raises both ethical and scientific concerns.”

“Primates attract particular concern because their advanced cognitive skills and high-level social and behavioural repertoire mean they are capable of experiencing intense physical or mental suffering, which adds significantly to the case against using them in experiments. It remains impossible to capture and breed these sentient beings, transport them halfway across the world in some cases, and keep and use them in laboratories, without seriously compromising their physical and psychological health.”

Brian Simpson Labour MEP for the North West agrees: “My position has always been one of opposing experiments on animals. However, we need to ensure that any such experiments are strictly controlled, that no primates caught in the wild can be used and that any use of offspring from wild caught primates is phased out within 7 years.

“Also we must now make every effort to find alternative methods for research that enables us to instigate a complete ban on animal experimentation as soon as possible.“

Scientists argue against animal experiments

Geoffrey J Pilkington BSc PhD CBiol FIBiol FRCPath, Professor of Cellular & Molecular Neuro-oncology, School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences at University of Portsmouth says:

“In brain tumour research it is clear that the development of three-dimensional tissue culture models, which utilise both cells and serum of human origin, offer a real alternative to some of the established laboratory animal models which have been found to be wanting when clinical translation to the disease in man is considered.”

Technology has replaced the use of animals in pharmacology, as Professor of E-Learning at Edinburgh University, David Dewhurst points out:

‘Over the last twenty years e-learning has transformed the way in which university students are taught and supported in their learning. For many students it is even possible to replace laboratory-based practical classes in disciplines such as pharmacology and physiology by computer-based learning programs which have been shown to offer effective alternatives to traditional teaching methods – similar learning objectives are achieved, costs are often lower, students are happy and unnecessary use of animals is reduced.’

ADI calls for MEPs to vote to save primates

ADI is calling for MEPs to oppose some destructive amendments adopted in the Agriculture Committee, such as:

  • An end to formal authorisation or licensing for most experiments (Articles. 35,36,37)
  • To allow animals to suffer both severe and prolonged pain (Art. 15)
  • To reduce the scientific justification needed to experiment on monkeys (Art. 8)
  • An indefinite delay to the European Commission’s proposals to stop the trapping of wild monkeys (Art. 10) – removing the Commission’s proposed 7-year phase out of use of monkeys born of wild parents.
  • A reduction in frequency of inspections, reporting and public accountability (Art. 33).
  • To reduce the requirement for Member States to collect and produce statistical information, and reduction of public access to information (Art. 44).
  • To reduce the scope of animals to be included under the Directive (Art. 2) – a step backwards as some Member States already make provision for foetal animals and selected invertebrates where scientific evidence supports their inclusion – the Commission’s proposal was that these should be included.

At the same time ADI is asking for MEP support for the following constructive amendments which were adopted in Agriculture Committee, for:

  • a ‘thematic’ review every two years of primate research (with a view to establishing timetables to phase out experiments) (Art. 8)
  • a thematic review every two years of specific types of experiments and the use of specific species with a view to establishing phase outs of areas of animal use, in favour of advanced non-animal techniques (Art. 53a)
  • an expansion of the role of ECVAM (European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods) to encourage development, training and dissemination of alternative methods (Art 45)

NOTES TO EDITORS

A march will be held on Saturday, 25th April at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London for the first time for 15 years to mark World Day for Animals in Labs.

World Lab Animal Day

Established by the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) part of the ADI Group, World Lab Animal Day falls on April 24th every year, is recognised by the United Nations, and is marked by anti-vivisectionists all over the globe. The date is the birthday of former NAVS President Lord Dowding

It is estimated that over 100 million animals are used in experiments around the world annually. However, records show that more than two animals are killed as surplus to requirements for every animal used, and this is rising with GM experiments. Animals killed in dissections or killed for their tissues or organs swell the total even more.

The NAVS has led the campaign for the abolition of cruel and futile experiments on animals for over 100 years. Founded in 1875 with the support of major public figures such as Queen Victoria, today they have growing support from MPs, Lords and MEPs as well as celebrity supporters such as Twiggy, Hayley Mills, Alexie Sayle, Sir Paul McCartney and Jamiroquai.

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