Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Europe moves closer to ban on use of apes and wild caught monkeys in experiments

Posted: 18 February 2008


At a meeting at the European Parliament yesterday, Commissioner Dimas gave his strongest indication yet that the use of apes and most wild caught monkeys in experiments would be banned under the forthcoming revision of EC Directive 86/609.

“I would like to propose a ban on the use of Great Apes” the Commissioner said. He added: “on the issue of wild-caught non-human primates, I am in fact going beyond the request in the EP Declaration on non-human primates by proposing a ban on all wild-caught animals regardless of the species.”

Last year, following a campaign led by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), the European Parliament adopted a declaration calling for urgent action to ban the use of great apes and wild caught monkeys in experiments and for a timetable to be set for the replacement of all tests on primates in the UK.

The Declaration was signed by over 55% of all MEPs representing all countries – a record for an animal protection measure.

“The use of non-human primates is of particular concern to me”, Commissioner Dimas said. However, he made it clear that there was considerable opposition to a timetable to phase out tests but under consideration was a regular review of research clause. ADI and NAVS will be pressing to ensure that this takes the form of clear target dates for replacement – as was adopted for cosmetics testing with large degree of success.

Jan Creamer Chief Executive of ADI, told the meeting: “Alternatives to experiments are available; they are scientifically advanced, better for industry, better for people and better for animals. The challenge for the Commission is to ensure that these new techniques are adopted.”

Professor of Clinical Neuroimaging Paul Furlong, Director of the Clinical Neurophysiology Unit of the University of Aston, in Birmingham, gave a presentation of the latest imaging techniques being employed at his laboratory. He made a compared data collected non-invasively from human volunteers with data collected using electrode implants and other techniques in monkeys. Professor Furlong demonstrated that on a purely scientific basis, the same level of information could be obtained from human volunteers using techniques such as MEG scanning. In short certain monkey experiments could be replaced now, and with the huge benefit that the data collected would be of direct relevance to humans and not from another species.

ADI’s research wing, the Lord Dowding Fund, has provided grants to neuroscience projects for the past decade. Currently the Fund is financing the annual running costs of the functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) facility at Aston University.

The meeting organised by Jens Holm MEP, one of the sponsors of the declaration on primate tests, and co-chaired by Neil Parish MEP, was addressed by a number of other scientists including:

Dr Claude Reiss, molecular biologist, president of Antidote Europe, Professor Wolfgang Dekant, Institute of Toxicology, Würzburg University; Dr Johan Rönnelid, Unit of Clinical Immunology, Uppsala University and Professor Thomas Hartung, head of Unit European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods, ECVAM. Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of the Eurogroup for animals also advocated for alternatives to animal experiments.

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