Nonhuman Primates And Research

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Nonhuman Primates And Research

By Ray Greek, M.D. on National Anti-Vivisection Society

Dr. Greek discusses a recent report from the EU Scientific Committee

The European Union Scientific Committee has recently released a report on using nonhuman primates in research and drug testing. An article has summarized the highlights, some of which I reproduce below:

  • Every year, more than 100,000 monkeys and apes are used for biomedical research around the world.
  • Because primates have close and sometimes unique similarities to humans, their use is still deemed necessary in the safety testing of new pharmaceuticals and in several areas of biomedical research.
  • However, the principles of reducing, refining and replacing the use of non-human primates in scientific testing are supported as ways to minimize their use without compromising the quality of scientific work.
  • At present, there are no valid scientific arguments to stop using primates for drug safety testing and scientific research in several areas, such as research on infectious diseases and on the brain, but this position should be regularly reviewed as new alternatives are constantly being developed.

The report continues to sing the praises of the Three Rs and assures the reader that they support the Three Rs.

Several issues raised by this report deserve to be addressed.

1. According to the International Primate Protection League (see IPPL News May 2009), based on figures reported by the US Fish and Wildlife Services, the number of nonhuman primates imported into the US has increased from 18,650 in 2003 to 28,091 in 2008. An increase of roughly 50%. Once again, no thinking person can look at these numbers and take seriously any claim by so-called animal protection groups that the Three Rs, specifically reducing the number of animals, is actually working or being taken seriously by industry.

2. This sentence summarizes the report: “At present, there are no valid scientific arguments to stop using primates for drug safety testing and scientific research in several areas . . .” In light of the fact that nonhuman primates are not predictive for human response, I can see no scientific justification for this statement. The reason animals are used in drug testing is precisely in order to predict human response. The assertion that “there are no valid scientific arguments to stop using primates for drug safety testing” is scientifically completely indefensible and can only be viewed as a lie spoken by people seeking to reassure the unsuspecting general public that animal testing must continue.

3. Once again we see the Three Rs being used to support the vivisection agenda. Once again, this severely calls into question the motivation of those supporting the Three Rs for drug testing and disease research.

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