Animal Aid

Leading organisations unite for a ban on primate experiments

Posted 31 August 2006

To mark and support International Primate Day on 1st September, Animal Aid has joined other leading animal protection groups in calling for a ban on primate experiments throughout the European Union. International Primate Day was founded by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to focus attention on the plight of primates around the world.

With EU legislators reviewing animal experimentation laws, animal campaign groups across Europe have pledged to work for a total ban on the use of primates in experiments. The so-called Berlin Declaration, which demands a complete ban on all such research, has already been signed by 86 animal protection organisations, plus leading academics and public figures.

Among the signatories is the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), which is supported by a coalition of European groups spanning 17 nations. BUAV has recently produced its own substantial dossier, Next of Kin: A report on the Use of Primates in Experiments.

Approximately 10,000 primates are used in research laboratories across the EU annually, with more than a third of them undergoing experiments in the UK. Typically, primates are used in toxicity testing and in research into brain disorders, despite there being stark and significant differences between primates and humans. Such differences have led to the production of drugs that have caused serious - and often fatal - side effects in humans. These include the asthma drug, Isoprenaline, which caused thousands of deaths in people but did not harm monkeys, and the recent "elephant man" drug where six healthy human volunteers were given a monoclonal antibody previously tested on, and passed safe in, primates. The men suffered serious adverse reactions and were admitted to intensive care units with multiple organ failure.

To coincide with International Primate Day, Animal Aid has published a new report, called The Case for an EU Ban on Primate Experiments, which will be sent to all MEPs and key European legislators.

Says Andrew Tyler, Animal Aid Director:

"The time is right to end experiments on primates. The EU Directive that governs all animal testing in Europe is currently being revised and this is the perfect opportunity to free primates from the horrors of the labs and, at the same time, free researchers from relying on outdated methods of drug testing and research. Primate testing falls far short of protecting human health, whereas state-of-the-art, non-animal methods have proved to be effective, safe and reliable. We must stop testing on primates. Human patients and monkeys deserve better."

Says Alistair Currie, BUAV Campaign Director:

"We welcome Animal Aid's new report and vital contribution to this debate. The weight of evidence in favour of a ban on the use of primates is overwhelming and the public, we believe, share our strong feelings of scepticism and revulsion about this practice. We're delighted to be combining forces in this timely campaign."

Says Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive:

"There is a genuine opportunity to end the suffering of primates in laboratories. The EU has recognised this and MEPs have before them the chance to take a huge step forward, when they review the European regulations on animal research. These animals are our closest relatives; almost all of the primate species share more than 90% of their genetic make up with us, with chimpanzees and humans differing by as little as 2% of DNA. The similarities in behaviour, emotions, and intellectual performance between ourselves and our fellow primates are striking. It is time for the European Union to take action to protect the primate nations."

Notes for Editors:

  • For more information, contact Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546
  • Download a copy of The Case for an EU Ban on Primate Experiments, email kate@animalaid.co.uk or visit www.animalaid.org.uk
  • The NAVS (www.navs.org.uk) and Animal Defenders (www.ad-international.org) can be contacted on 020 8846 9777
  • The BUAV press office (www.buav.org) can be contacted on: 020 7619 6978 or 07850 510 955 (24hr mobile)
  • Animal Aid has an ISDN line for broadcast quality interviews

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