Comment: The SCHER Report on Non-human Primate Research — Biased and Deeply Flawed
Jarrod Bailey and Katy Taylor
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) recently issued an Opinion on the need for non-human primate (NHP) use in biomedical research, and the possibilities of replacing NHP use with alternatives, as part of the Directive 86/609/EEC revision process. Here, we summarise our recent complaint to the European Ombudsman about SCHER’s Opinion and the entire consultation process. It is our opinion that the Working Group almost entirely failed to address its remit, and that the Group was unbalanced and contained insufficient expertise. The Opinion presumed the validity of NHP research with inadequate supporting evidence, and ignored substantial evidence against the need for NHP research and examples of valid alternatives that could replace the use of NHPs. Because the European Commission and others might base their approach to NHP research directly on the inquiry’s findings during the revision of Directive 86/609/EEC, the implications of a flawed analysis of the efficacy of NHP research are extremely serious, both for animal welfare and for human health and safety. The conduct of the SCHER inquiry, and its published Opinion, should therefore be of major and widespread concern, and should not be given any political, scientific or legislative credibility.