Posted: 21 May 2014. Updated: 22 May 2014
Primera has failed to address a number of serious economic, environmental, agricultural, and public health issues associated with its proposed monkey breeding facility in Labelle, Florida.
As noted in its water use permit, Primera intends to house 3200 non-human primates, thereby increasing (not reducing, as they claim) the number of animals used in biomedical research.
Primera says “We stand by our commitment to create jobs and…promote economic development”; however, it remains unclear whether the company will actually introduce jobs to Hendry County that are at or above its median. By our analysis, as many as two thirds of the promised 50 jobs may be below federal poverty standards and below the county’s median household income. ADI’s undercover investigation revealed internal corporate documents which imply that PreLabs (Primera’s managing company) viewed Hendry’s financial challenges as key toward easy permitting.
Primera states it has fulfilled all the necessary environmental impact, permitting, and survey requirements; however, under the current structure we understand there will be no review by state or federal agencies regarding the potential impact of introducing yet another non-native exotic to the state’s indigenous plants, animals, and waters. Florida has looked at similar situations before and determined they are better prevented than resolved, and nearly impossible to eradicate. Despite this, it is poised to invite a new problem by introducing yet another non-native species without proper evaluation beforehand, one the existing permitting process does not take into account.
It is also important to note that the project property received its water permit under a livestock designation. Florida statutes do not include macaques in its definition of livestock; in fact, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lists macaques as a Class II wildlife, which pose a danger to people and require a permit to possess or sell. Further, macaque monkeys eat a variety of fruit and where introduced as a non-native, they are argued to be a pest to agriculture, native bird and seed populations, and at times even small animals or their eggs.
Primera has not addressed the question of potential interaction between the different primate species or the potential for cross-species spread of disease. Florida has previously allowed, and documented regret regarding, the introduction of two different species of monkeys into the wild. Now, more than 3200 monkeys – a third species from a third continent – will be introduced, with the attendant risks of cross-species infection. Though some may argue that the monkeys will be contained, Florida’s current population of wild monkeys underscores the failures of containment. After Hurricane Andrew for example, numerous monkeys escaped from a research facility in Miami. A rumor spread that the animals had been used in AIDS research; the public panicked and began shooting them in the street.
ADI’s undercover investigation of Biodia, PreLabs’ partner in Mauritius and presumed primate supplier to the proposed LaBelle facility, revealed horrific treatment of monkeys. Findings included workers swinging screaming monkeys by their tails, distressed baby monkeys torn from the arms of their desperate mothers and tattooed without anesthetic, and monkeys injected in the eyelids for TB tests. This footage and that from other ADI undercover investigations show this is the typical treatment of non-human primates at breeding facilities across the globe.
The world is moving away from primate research, as both the public and scientific community are concerned about the use of these intelligent, social animals in laboratory research and the effect of the trade on the conservation of the species in the wild. There is a wealth of scientific opinion and video-graphic and documentary evidence of the chilling brutality and desperation these monkeys endure throughout their entire lives. Primera’s suggestion that the “local community’s appreciation for animals and their use” includes using and abusing primates this way ignores growing public opinion throughout Florida and worldwide, and it ignores the changing face of the testing and research industries.