Primate report

Scientists question value of monkey experiments

An article published in the peer-reviewed Medicolegal and Bioethics presents a rare challenge not just to the ethics but also to the science of using non human primates in research.

Public surveys have consistently shown the general public to be uneasy about the use of non human primates in scientific research. For example, 80 per cent of respondents to the European Commission’s public consultation on the current revision of Directive 86/609/EEC (on the protection of animals in laboratories) responded that the use of primates in laboratories was “not acceptable”.

Now, a team of scientists, including a professor of neuroscience based at the University of California in San Diego, has published an in-depth analysis that will make researchers who use animals begin to question not just the ethics of using these animals in research, but also the science that underpins their use as “models” of human diseases. The article, published December 6th, 2011 in the online peer-reviewed journal Medicolegal and Bioethics, represents a rare challenge to the use of non human primates in science.

The scientific criticism levelled at this research is intended as a wake-up call not just for the animal-based researcher community, but also for the general public and those who fund animal experiments. Says Ray Greek MD, principal author of the article, “The current scientific evidence is stacked against the practice of using animals, in general, and non human primates, specifically, in biomedical research. This has important legal and ethical ramifications.”

 Notes to editors:

 Full online article is available at:

Reference to EC public consultation is available at:

Chimps to be spared from use in US medical experiments. American scientific group urges strict limits on laboratory research using chimpanzees.

Associated Press in Washington

The Guardian. 15 December 2011.

Chimpanzees should hardly ever be used for medical research, a prestigious scientific group told the US government on Thursday – advice that means days in the laboratory may be numbered for humans' closest relatives. The Institute of Medicine stopped short of recommending the outright ban that animal rights activists had pushed for.

Full article here.


Major science group says chimpanzees should hardly ever be used for medical research anymore

WASHINGTON — The government says it will accept strict new limits on using chimpanzees in medical research, after a prestigious scientific group said that experiments with humans’ closest relative should be a last resort.

The National Institutes of Health agreed that the species deserves special consideration, and that science has advanced enough that chimps seldom would be needed to help develop new medicines.

Full story here.