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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Call for permanent ban on Great Ape experiments

ChimpNew rules being introduced in Europe through EU Directive 2010/63 ban the use of Great Apes in laboratories but include a provision that individual member states can seek to use them if there is an unexpected outbreak of a life threatening human disease in the future.


The exemption would be a retrograde step from the existing state of research in Britain.  Great Apes have not been used in UK laboratories for decades. The Home Office stated in 1997 that it would no longer issue licences. FRAME and the BUAV  want to see that policy ban made law throughout Europe.


The joint statement says there is no justification for a reversal, on ethical, scientific or logistical grounds, and asks the Government to put the issue beyond doubt and enshrine the ban in UK law.


Both organisations believe that the psychological and physical harm to the animals, and the scientific ineffectiveness of their use demonstrate that there should be total ban on laboratory research on Great Apes. 


The statement says: "At present, no chimpanzees are available in the UK for use in laboratories. Even if such use were ethically acceptable and scientifically justifiable, it would take several years to provide sufficient animals for use in meaningful experiments, even if the need for it could be foreseen in advance.


"In the UK, logistic and economic restrictions mean that experiments on chimpanzees could not be the basis for a rapid response to an emergency of any kind, even if a colony held in reserve could be provided and maintained. The costs to these animals are immense, and whether there are real benefits to be gained from research on them is highly questionable. The way forward in relation to all human diseases should be to take advantage of the new and advanced technologies which can be directly and ethically applied to humans, or which use cells and tissues derived from humans.”


The submission was sent today (Feb 24) to Lynne Featherstone MP, the Home Office Minister responsible for the regulation of animal experimentation in the UK. The full text is available here.


Archived March 15 2012