Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Help save primates from suffering in British labs

Posted: 18 July 2019. Updated: 18 July 2019


New Home Office figures on the use of animals in research in Britain reveal that, despite there being better, humane alternatives available, 2,472 primates were experimented on last year – an increase of 12% on the previous year.

Many primates in Britain – one of Europe’s largest users – are used for curiosity driven “basic research” not required by law. This includes invasive neurology experiments, for which animals may have electrodes inserted directly into their brains to record brain cell activity as they perform tasks.

Classed as causing “moderate” suffering, a hole is cut into the monkeys’ skulls and a recording device implanted, in addition to a head restraint frame. Common adverse effects of this procedure include wound infections. Such single cell recordings can be, and are being, carried out in ethically controlled trials of patients undergoing brain surgery.

Using advanced, non-invasive scanning methods, researchers can also focus on networks of brain cells, rather than the single cell recordings undertaken in animals, a superior and human-relevant way of investigating brain function and disease. Despite this, invasive primate experiments continue at some institutions, such as the Institute of Neurology in London, as they have done for decades. This needs to change, for the sake of science and the animals.

Although our closest relatives, well-observed fundamental differences at a cellular, genetic and immune system level between ourselves and other primates make the findings of such research unreliable for people.

More than 80% of the public consider the use of primates to be unacceptable. Providing a mandate for government and funding bodies to replace their use with advanced, scientific, human relevant methods, Animal Defenders International is calling on the UK Government to become a leader in phasing out their use – in line with public opinion, modern science, and a long-standing EU commitment on which action is still awaited.

Nearly 100 academics, scientists, institutions, companies, organisations and celebrities have signed up to the Declaration for Advanced Science an ADI initiative which supports measures to accelerate a “move away from animal models towards more human-relevant research methods”.

A realistic mechanism for phasing out specific areas of primate and animal use is ‘Thematic Review’. Although this is set out under EU legislation governing animal research, it has yet to be implemented. Animal Defenders International proposals show how the European Commission, national governments and even individual establishments can identify and progress specific uses where animals can be replaced.

How you can help

  • Contact your MP hereand ask them to urge the UK Government to become a leader in Europe and phase out primate use
  • Please also ask your MP to support Early Day Motion 2228 (we have a template letter here) which calls on the government to accelerate the development of innovative and non-animal science.
  • Watch and share the ADI investigation of Europe’s biggest primate breeding facility, the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC) in the Netherlands where we revealed routine primate suffering before experiments even begin.
  • Support our campaign to save the primates, donate here

© Animal Defenders International 2019