Primate experiments scrutinised
Andrew Knight PhD, CertAW, MRCVS, FOCAE
Last year, British scientists conducted scientific procedures on more than 2,600 monkeys. Invasive research on non-human primates (NHPs) is rendered particularly ethically problematic by their advanced cognitive, social and related abilities. It is also particularly expensive. Accordingly, in 2006 a UK working group recommended that the major organisations funding such research should undertake a systematic review of its outcomes.
In July 2011, the subsequent Review of Research Using Non-Human Primates was publicly released. It was commissioned by major funders of such NHP research in the UK and examined all such all NHP research funded by these organisations from 1997 to 2006 inclusive.
The Review Panel considered the scientific importance of each research
project, the probability of medical and public benefit, and the likelihood
of animal suffering. They asserted that in many cases the use of NHPs was
justifiable, but were concerned about approximately 9% of research
programmes from which no clear scientific, medical or social benefit had
emerged. However, for three important reasons the proportion of cases that
were ethically justifiable was probably far lower than 91%. -- more: