Austria Bans Experiments on Primates
22 December 2005

Upper Chamber in Austrian Parliament agrees to ban on ape experiments!

From 1st Jan 2006 onwards, experiments on apes that are not in the interest of the subject, will be illegal in principle in Austria.

In the year 2002, the last chimps were retired from vivisection at the labs of the company Baxter in Orth at the Danube 30 km East of Vienna. The retirement opened up the debate on the justification of experiments on all apes, not just Chimps, Bonobos, Gorillas and Orang Utans, but also on all 8 Gibbon species. A Parliamentarian scientific committee was set up and eventually agreed on the ban, putting it before Parliament. On 7th December 2005, the Lower Chamber in Parliament agreed on the new law and today the Upper Chamber also supported the bill in a unanimous vote. By 1st January 2006 therefore, the new law will be in place and all ape experiments banned.

Dr. Martin Balluch, president of the Austrian Association Against Animal Factories, which was instrumental in achieving the ban, comments: "Today's decision might not have immediate practical consequences, since there are no ape experiments in Austria anymore. But the ban does a lot more than guaranteeing that there won't be any such experiments in the future. On the one hand, this decision will send a signal to the rest of Europe and the world, where such experiments still take place: civilized countries consider it unacceptable to allow any kind of experiments on apes. That should have a ripple-on effect to stop such experiments elsewhere, like the fur farm ban in Austria eventually helped to trigger a similar ban for example in England.

But on the other hand, this decision can also be seen as a declaration on the status of animals in society. After all, the all-out ban actually says that any kind of experiment, even of the mildest form, is illegal if it is not in the interest of the subject, never mind how big the advantage of the experiment could be for mankind. Hence, the ban is one step away from the Kantian view of animals as means to human ends, a step away from the human-animal concept of the enlightening era that sees animals as mindless things.

The contradiction between seeing animals as things, as they are treated by law, and seeing animals as individuals in their own right, like you and me, with a right to life and a value independent of their use for human ends, as it is becoming common in society, is growing ever bigger. This discrepancy will become more and more obvious and cause for conflict, until a big change, a revolution in thought, will happen towards animals as subjects of rights. For many in the younger generation that attitude is already a reality. And the next generation will find it even more obvious. With time, to put that attitude into law will be inevitable."

Press release from Austria: