Animal Aid

Campaigners Demand an End to Primate Experiments in Europe

Posted 27 February 2009

On Saturday 28th February, campaigners across the country will be taking action to help bring about an end to the use of primates in European laboratories. Street stalls will be set up and signatures collected on campaign postcards.

New rules governing animal experiments for the whole of Europe are currently being developed by the European Union and animal campaigners are calling for a timetabled phase-out of the use of all primates.

Around 10,000 primates are used in laboratories across Europe each year, with a third of them undergoing ‘procedures’ in Britain. Most are used for safety and toxicity testing of medicines by the pharmaceutical industry in order to gain regulatory approval. Toxicity testing is one of the cruellest of all animal procedures as it involves deliberate poisoning by overdose. Over a period of days, weeks or months, animals are dosed with drugs or chemicals by injection, inhalation or gavage (force feeding). Reactions may include retching and vomiting, uncontrollable diarrhoea, tremors, liver failure and death. Hundreds more primates are used in Britain every year for invasive brain experiments.

There is widespread support for strong measures to prohibit primate use. More than half of all MEPs signed a Written Declaration calling for an immediate end to experiments involving great apes, as well as a timetable for the replacement of all nonhuman primates in scientific experiments. The public also wants to see the abuse stop. A European Commission survey revealed that 80 per cent of European citizens find the use of primates in laboratories unacceptable. Yet, as it stands, the draft legislation fails adequately to address these concerns and, instead, allows the continued use of all primate species – including great apes – in certain circumstances.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘Aside from the appalling cruelty meted out to these intelligent and sensitive beings, animal experiments are notoriously unreliable as predictors for human health. Even our closest animal kin, chimpanzees, are essentially immune to HIV, common malaria and hepatitis B. And the recent ‘elephant man’ drug testing catastrophe – where six healthy human volunteers suffered serious adverse reactions including multiple organ failure – involved a drug previously passed as safe after tests on monkeys.
‘State-of-the-art, non-animal technologies that are effective, safe and reliable already exist. We are heartened that members of the public and politicians right across Europe are looking to a future where no animal is made to suffer in painful and outdated laboratory tests.’

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