No more monkey business in name of research
TOMORROW the European Commission is expected to release its proposals for updating legislation governing the use of animals in experiments in the European Union.
The latest EU figures show 10,451 primates – our closest living relatives – such as macaque and squirrel monkeys, baboons and marmosets were used in the EU in 2005 for research, drug development and safety testing. Around 3125 primates were used in Britain alone last year. Scotland is the primate experimentation centre of the EU, with more experiments conducted per head of population than in any other country.
The use of primates in experiments raises both ethical and scientific concerns, as highlighted by the Edinburgh organisation Advocates for Animals.
I and the majority of other members of the European Parliament support an end to experiments on primates. In 2007, the European Parliament accepted a resolution to end the use of great apes and wild-caught monkeys in experiments and for a timetable to replace all primate experiments with non-animal alternatives.
Funders of research and scientists can help to bring about change so that outdated and ineffective primate experiments continue to be replaced by modern non-animal techniques fit for the 21st century. It would be great to see Scotland leading the way.
I hope the European Commission will soon introduce legislation to ensure the replacement of primates in research in the EU.
The moral and scientific cases for such a move are overwhelming. Such a move will help to avoid large-scale animal suffering, to enhance medical progress and to accelerate the development and use of novel, effective and humane scientific technologies.
It will also set an example for other authorities to implement similar policies which will benefit patients and primates across the world.
David Martin is a Lothian-based Labour Member of the European Parliament for Scotland
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