25 May 2007
CARTOONS USED TO WIN OVER MEPs
A series of cartoons taking a humorous swipe at humans� treatment of primates is the latest weapon in Animal Defenders International�s (ADI) drive to urge MEPs to sign a ground-breaking Written Declaration (WD 40/2007) in the European Parliament. Highlighting the issues behind the Declaration�s call for an end to the use of primates in research, the cartoons form part of a novel e-campaign aimed at MEPs during this week�s Plenary Session.
Jan Creamer, chief executive, who was in Strasbourg to launch the Declaration, commented: "Cartoons like these convey our concerns about the plight of lab primates and the threat to their survival, in a light�hearted way to bring the message home. Used as a campaign tool with other communications such as our �Five Reasons to Sign the Declaration� (see Notes to Editors), they are an effective way to win hearts and minds."
MEPs had already taken part in an entertaining launch of the Written Declaration outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg last month, putting their faces to primate bodies featured on a giant poster of primates, in a show of support.
UK MEPs John Bowis, Dr Caroline Lucas and Liz Lynne, along with Euro MEPs Jens Holm and Mojca Drčar Murko, launched the Declaration under the banner "Ich bin ein Primat" (I am a primate), to show how close primates are to humans. The majority of primate species share more than 90% of human DNA and are intelligent, have close social bonds and culture, use tools and display a similar range of emotions to humans.
Written Declaration 40/2007 marks a major shift in European attitudes to the use of primates in research.
Increased public concern about laboratory primates was reflected in recent findings of a 2006 European Commission Survey with 80% of the respondents considering the use of primates in experiments as "not acceptable".
Speaking in support of this bid to replace all primate experiments with non-animal alternatives, UK Green MEP Dr Caroline Lucas said at the launch: "The EU is currently reviewing its rules of laboratory animals, and we must use this opportunity to immediately ban the use of primates in experiments anywhere in the EU, in favour of more modern and effective alternatives like computer modelling, tissue or cell cultures and micro-dosing."
For further information, please contact Allison Tuffrey Jones, ADI Press Office, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP:
Tel: 020 7630 9159 Mob: 07785 552548 Email: [email protected]
NOTES TO EDITORS
To MEPs: 5 reasons to sign Written Declaration 40/2007
1. Human Health
In 2006, two men almost died in the UK taking test drug TGN1412. Yet, the same drug was tested on laboratory monkeys with doses 500 times higher without adverse effects. Despite our similarities, the fundamental problem of species differences means that results from animal tests are not reliable for humans. Around one third of drug candidates fail in the first human trials � we urgently need more advanced, reliable human-based techniques adopted.
2. Public opinion
80% of respondents to the European Commission�s public consultation on the revision of Directive 86/609/EEC on animal experiments considered the use of primates in laboratories as �not acceptable�. According to Eurobarometer 225 of June 2005 on "Social values, Science and Technology", over four in five EU citizens say that we have a duty to protect animal rights whatever the costs.
Wild-caught primates continue to be used in European laboratories � under 10% of primates used. In addition, breeding centres continue to capture wild animals to supplement their breeding stock. 26% of primate species are in danger of extinction. How can the international community convince range states to protect their primates while European scientists are already freely using them?
4. Advancing European science
A wide range of modern techniques with direct relevance to humans are already available. These include micro-dosing, cell and tissue culture, and computer modelling. Modern scanning techniques such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and magneto-encephalography (MEG) are being combined to make enormous advances in neuroscience. These new technologies provide human data without the confusion of species differences. A timetable to end primate tests would accelerate the development and utilisation of such research and put Europe at the forefront of science.
5. We know they suffer
All primates are able to express emotions similar to ours. They experience happiness, pain, and distress. They require social structures and family bonds. The close confinement the laboratory environment necessitates means that these animals suffer greatly through the captivity alone � a suffering we can comprehend. Further stress and suffering can be endured during capture and transportation. This trauma alone can seriously distort data obtained in experiments on these animals.
Please sign Written Declaration 0040/2007, which:
Urges the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to use the revision process of Directive 86/609/EC as an opportunity to:
(a) make ending the use of apes and wild-caught monkeys in scientific experiments an urgent priority,
(b) establish a timetable for replacing the use of all primates in scientific experiments with alternatives.
 The survey formed part of a public consultation for the revision of Directive 86/609/EC on the use of animals in scientific research.