Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

MEPs lead call to end experiments on primates in the EU

Posted: 7 December 2006

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MEPs Jens Holm, Caroline Lucas, Sajjad Karim, and Robert Evans are today calling on other MEPs to back a landmark call to make plans for an end to the use of chimpanzees and monkeys in experiments across the European Union (EU). The call comes at a point when almost 50 MEPs have signed a declaration before the European Parliament to end primate research across the EU in the next six years.

The Written Declaration, drawn up by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), has been tabled with unprecedented cross party supportfrom signatories: UK MEPs David Martin, (Labour Party of European Socialists); Robert Evans (LabPES); Sajjad Karim (Liberal Democrats Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe); John Bowis OBE (EPP-ED/ Conservative Party); together with Portuguese MEP Paulo Casaca (PES), President of the MEPs Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Swedish MEP Carl Schlyter (Green Party).

MEPs and campaigners believe the time is right for an action plan on primate experiments, which evoke considerable public concern, because rules for animal experimentation throughout the EU are currently under review (revision of Directive 86/609).

The landmark declaration asks: “the Commission to propose an end to all non-human primate experiments in the revision process of Directive 86/609 EC on the use of animals in scientific procedures, specifically: to prohibit chimpanzee experiments and the use of wild-caught primates in the EU and phase out all non-human primate experiments in the EU over the next 6 years.”

Robert Evans, Labour MEP for London, said: “I am convinced the time has now come for politicians to take an uncompromised stand to achieve a ban on all non-human primate testing.”

Jens Holm, Swedish GUE/NGL MEP, said today: “It is about time for primate experiments to be ended. Primates are sentient beings and are fully capable of experiencing feelings like humans: joy, happiness or anger. Therefore their interests must be fully taken into account and cruelty towards them must stop.”

Sajjad Karim, Liberal Democrat MEP for North West England, said: “It is unsurprising that 90% of the compassionate British public would like to see more funding allocated to non-animal alternatives for testing. Many alternatives do exist, but their use and further development requires investment and a commitment to innovation. This investment is increasingly repaid with the relevant, accurate and specific data which animal models have failed to provide.”

Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South-East England and Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Animal Welfare Intergroup, said: “Medical and commercial experiments on primates are cruel, unnecessary and, according to increasing numbers of doctors themselves, unhelpful and often misleading. This Written Declaration seeks to ban them in line with the European Commission’s aspiration to make the EU a world leader in animal welfare standards, and I urge my fellow MEPs to sign up and demand legislative proposals to make outdated and outmoded tests on living primates a thing of the past.” Dr Caroline Lucas has recently drafted a set of proposals to end the requirement for industrial toxicity tests on animals.

A new report, called ‘Primate Nations’ has highlighted the suffering of Europe’s 10,000 laboratory primates and describes how these tests can be replaced with advanced techniques based upon human data.

Dr Michael Coleman, Senior Lecturer in Toxicology of Department of Pharmacy, Aston University, commented: “As well as the ethical considerations, scientifically primates are simply not close enough to us to act as good experimental models and we should be promoting replacement of animal work with human cellular systems. We must leave behind the intellectual laziness of relying on animal models and invest in human-cellular based alternatives for the future.”

Jan Creamer, ADI chief executive, said: “We don’t need to destroy primates in laboratories. Our report highlights the similarities but also the key biological differences which make primate research unreliable, such as the TGN1412 experimental drug trial which caused serious damage to human volunteers such as head swelling, after it had been given to monkeys with no side effects”.

This week, ADI and NAVS will be distributing information on primate experiments to all MEPS. This will be supplied in English, French, German, Italian, Greek, and Polish. ADI’s US office is also lobbying all members of the House of Representatives.
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NOTES TO EDITORS

  • UK is the largest user of laboratory monkeys in the EU with primate tests up in 2005.
  • Three countries, the UK, France and Germany, are responsible for almost all of the 10,000 experiments on monkeys in the EU.
  • The USA is the largest user of laboratory primates in the world.
  • The Spanish monkey dealer exposed by ADI is importing macaque monkeys from Mauritius. It will have an estimated capacity for 3,000 macaque – almost half of the EU’s annual macaque use (75-80% of all laboratory monkeys used in the EU are macaques).

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