Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Unprecedented number of MEPs back call to end experiments on monkeys and apes across Europe

Posted: 25 January 2007


Almost 90 MEPs have today pledged their support for a complete end to experiments on primates across Europe, and the campaign has received a major boost with the backing of leading EU statesmen.

Written Declaration 64 supported by ADI in the European Parliament which calls for the immediate prohibition in the EU of tests on apes and wild caught monkeys, and a six year phasing out of all experiments on monkeys, now has the support of 88 MEPs. This includes European Statesmen John Bowis OBE MEP, former Minister of Health for the last Conservative Government, and Michel Rocard MEP former Socialist Prime Minister in France.

John Bowis wrote to all MEPs of the EPP-ED Group to urge them to sign the Declaration. He wrote: “I have signed this Declaration because I believe, as many scientists, parliamentarians and members of the public, experiments on primates are both unethical and inefficient and can and should be replaced with more advanced scientific techniques.”

Before Christmas, the Written Declaration had just under 60 signatures, but this week, as MEPs returned to Strasbourg, there has been a surge of support. The Declaration has now been signed by MEPs from all political groups and nearly all nationalities represented in the European Parliament. Making the Written Declaration on primate experiments currently the third most successful Declaration before the European Parliament (Behind only the Written Declaration on “Fifa’s decision regarding EU Member States” with 97 signatures, and that “to combat trafficking and prostitution of women and children” with 122 signatures).

Paulo Casaca MEP (Portugal, PES), co-sponsor of the Declaration, has also urged parliamentarians to sign: “As an MEP, and President of the Intergroup for Animal Welfare, I want the European Union to show the world the way forward for the animals. With the revision of Directive 86/609 on the use of animals in experiments, the EU can make an historical progress by gradually banning primates in laboratories and replacing them by safer and more reliable alternatives. This is a step forward not only for the animals, but also for the competitiveness of our high-tech industry, for science, and for the humans; I call on all the MEPs to contribute to it by signing Written Declaration 64/2006 now.”

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI: “This unprecedented level of support, shows that MEPs, like the public, are tiring of excuses on animal experimentation, they want to see real progress to end this suffering. It is known that primates suffer terribly in the confinement of the laboratory, that results from monkeys cannot be extrapolated to people with real precision, and that modern techniques enabling human studies are the way forward.”

In the coming months, the EU will be concluding a review of Europe-wide rules for animal experimentation (Directive 86/609). This includes special consideration of the use of primates in laboratories. Decisions being made include the use of wild-caught monkeys and whether to ban the use of apes or build a centralized super lab for EU ape experimentation – which ADI say would be a “disaster for animal protection and science”.

ADI, whose department the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research pumps tens of thousands of pounds into the development of research techniques without animals, is well placed to say that research can advance more rapidly without animals. The LDF is currently committing £80,000 per year to fund the UK’s most powerful fMRI scanner at Aston University.

Jan Creamer: “We are backing up our opposition to experiments on primates by providing support to scientists who are showing that there is a better way. Clearly, using studying patients with the latest scanning techniques will provide more reliable data than putting electrodes into the heads of a different frightened species.”

Alternative techniques are also getting support from industry as the EPAA (European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing) Conference in December in Brussels confirmed. The event was held to discuss the progress made by industry to replace animals in experiments. 27 companies from seven industry sectors joined forces with European Commission Services to engage in the Partnership to promote alternatives to animal experiments in the private sector.

The Partnership has put in place a five-year action plan, and succeeded in documenting activities relating to the 3Rs* to focus research and avoid duplication of effort. Areas have also been identified where collaboration between industry and regulators can further enhance the application of the 3R methods in safety testing.

Commissioner Gunter Verheugen for Enterprise and Industry and Commissioner Janez Potocnik for Science and Research spoke at the Conference.

Over 10,000 primates are used in experiments in Europe – but almost all in just a handful of countries. The UK is the EU’s largest user of laboratory monkeys.

Last year ADI revealed undercover footage from a huge laboratory monkey supplier in Spain gearing up for significantly increased EU primate use. The centre is obtaining macaque monkeys from Mauritius to supply to EU labs. Figures for primates supplied to the UK from Mauritius as a whole indicate that all of the animals are first generation progeny of wild-caught (or at least one wild-caught) parent.

Written Declaration 64/2006:“...Urges 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.

*3Rs =Refinement, Reduction & Replacement of animal tests.

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